Redeeming the Routine

Just back from an exhibition entitled ‘Compulsive, Obsessive, Repetitive’.

Mountains of sugar-cubes, shaped like a castle.  A city of towering till-rolls (pictured). Walls covered with the same salmon-skin tiles.  Hours and hours of painstaking, boring and repetitive work. Viewed up close, it looks haphazard, senseless.  Yet from a distance, it begins to make sense.

One scrap of paper on its own is litter.  But hundreds of pieces, hung together just so – and you’re looking at something else – something startling and lovely.  The fragments seem insignificant, meaningless.  But taken as a whole, they have identity and purpose.

Our flaws  have the capacity to be  great gifts.    One person’s OCD is another’s art installation. What seems like useless sorting is also a talent for detail. That’s the thing about redemption. It starts with who we are and uses every part.

We can spend our lives hating our foibles, or we can see them transformed into something extraordinary. Sometimes what matters isn’t the label we give these things, but what we do with them instead.

One person’s vision transforms the mundane into the beautiful.  Or maybe it just helps us see what’s already there.

2 thoughts on “Redeeming the Routine

  1. It is all too easy to endlessly pursue the ideal personality in this life – a perfectly well-balanced, rounded, personality who doesn’t take anything too far and keeps everything within ‘normal’ bounds of perspective and order. However, this may not be Christ’s vision for us. Look at the characters in the Bible – how many of them would fit in with that perfectly well-balanced personality profile? How many of them were bi-polar… how many depressives… how many obsessives… how many neurotics… Think of how David loses all sense of decorum when he dances before the LORD, and responds to Michal with ‘I will become even more undignified than this’. Was that the response of a man who keeps everything in a calm and balanced order?

    All the mountains and valleys of our personalities are deadly and dangerous if they are left in the control of the flesh. If we think like non-Christians… if we allow unbelief to control the way we live and think, then no matter what kind of personality we naturally have we will fall into a useless, fruitless life alienated from God with a hard-heart. On the other hand, the most unpromising personality profile can be transformed into a fruitful, glorious testimony to the power and glory of Jesus if we begin each day by setting our hearts and minds on Him. “Today is a new adventure with Jesus on planet earth. What can I learn of Him today? How can I trust Him more today? How can I show His glory today in all I do?” – the words of a great man of God each morning.

    So, I tend to be obsessive and compulsive. yes… and I have seen all too clearly what happens when that focus becomes directed onto myself or away from Jesus. The whirlpool down into depression, unfeeling alienation from God is all too familiar. Yet, when, in the calm and peace of the Spirit, that focus is directed onto Jesus and is ready to do what He says… real fruit for eternity.

    Would Matthew Henry have been able to do so much of the whole Bible if he had not been something of a compulsive, focussed personality? Yet, praise Jesus that Henry found a focus for his obsession that was worthy of such intense focus.

    To broaden the thought, the painstaking single-minded focus of Christian scientific researchers, writers, designers, thinkers, cooks, builders, bankers, students, nurses and burger-flippers all can be to the glory of Jesus, making His teaching attractive, if our personalities are given to Him… as we deliberately trust Him each day, setting our minds on the truth in Jesus rather than the emptiness outside.

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