(screengrab: Channel 5/Mediacorp Singapore)

Like many others, I was struck by the news stories of the “crying man” at this year’s National Day Parade. The man in question, a secondary school teacher, was spotted with tears streaming down his face as he recited the pledge and sang the national anthem.

He later told reporters that he had been deeply moved by the parade’s proceedings, and the recitation simply capped the emotional night—hence the tears.

Fireworks and soaring strings aside, I found it rather odd that this man, of all people, would cry during the anthem.

After all, he was a teacher—he would have heard the anthem being sung almost every day. And he would have been doing this for years as a student himself, just as most of us have.

I certainly never saw anyone cry during the reciting of the pledge or singing of the anthem when I was in school. In fact, our experience tended towards a thoroughgoing dullness as we ran through the motions. More often than not, what we felt was the exact opposite of an emotional high.

The dullness of the ordinary

The incident made me wonder: Don’t we Christians go through times of dullness in our daily walk with the Lord, too?

Sometimes, the Christian life can feel like yet another routine: read the Bible, say our prayers, attend cell group, attend prayer meeting, attend service, take sermon notes . . .

At times, we may be tempted to despair in the dreariness. “Woe to me,” I sometimes want to cry, “for I am a churchgoer of rote repetition, and I live within a framework of checklist Christianity, and my strength is failing and I find little joy in serving the King, the Lord Almighty.”

Ever felt this way? Listlessness, ennui—sianness—bearing down on our life with God?

The blessedness of the ordinary

At such times, perhaps we would do well to recall the occasions when God used ordinary parts of our routine to share His message and heart with us.

Take Holy Communion, for instance, which for most churches is a routine observance—the church I attend celebrates the Lord’s Supper every week. We hear the oft-repeated, even routine words, handed down from the apostle Paul: “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me” (1 Corinthians 11:25).

One Sunday, hearing these words in the pews, the realisation dawned: Here was Jesus, for me.

Here He was, using ordinary things—bread and cup, routine and repetition—for His extraordinary purposes. Here He was, renewing His covenant with me, testifying that He shed His blood for me. Here He stood, welcoming me to His table, to His kingdom, to His family.

Unlike the crying man, I didn’t shed tears. But I knew that God was speaking to me.

Through the ordinariness of the pastor’s words and the cup lifted high, God was calling me to a closer walk with himself, to a greater appreciation of Jesus’ sacrifice, to a higher obedience to His will.

At times, God shines through the ordinary; by His Spirit, He does marvellous things through the mundane.

Finding meaning in ordinary things

So let’s not despise the ordinary and mundane. If God can use ordinary things in extraordinary ways for our good, then our routines are not in vain. We can persevere in these Christian disciplines, expecting that God will work in us through them.

Above all, let us allow routine to shape us into people faithful to the Lord, steadfast in our daily walk regardless of the circumstances.

Times of personal revival may serve as milestones to encourage us along the way. But a life spent chasing after spiritual highs—when God speaks the loudest and our emotions blaze the hottest—will leave us weary, for life is often ordinary and mundane.

What if we learnt to appreciate our daily walk with God amid the ordinary rhythms of life? What if we allowed ourselves to learn through routine to walk faithfully with Him?

Guide us waking, O Lord,
and guard us sleeping;
that awake we may watch with Christ,
and asleep we may rest in peace.
—An ancient prayer

Jie En joined Our Daily Bread Ministries as an editor in 2022. He’s a big fan of ordinary bread, but hopes most of all to enjoy the living bread who comes down from heaven.

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