Sometimes God calls us to do something extraordinary—something that feels momentous and profound, even life-altering, and requires big, bold faithfulness. Something such as going on a missions trip, adopting or fostering children in need, having a life-changing conversation, leading a Bible study, or getting through a major surgery.
But sometimes God calls us to do something ordinary. And by “sometimes” I mean every single day. Things like changing diapers, doing dishes, going to work, dealing with chronic pain, or helping in the church nursery. Such mundane attempts at everyday faithfulness don’t feel profound, or significant to our sanctification, or important enough to pray about. They’re usually done in private—no one is handing out awards for them. And there’s no approaching end date for them.
Yet what if I told you that these acts of everyday faithfulness are just as significant as the acts of extraordinary faithfulness (sometimes more), and that God treasures them just as much (if not more)? This is why every Christian needs Glenna Marshall’s new book Everyday Faithfulness: The Beauty of Ordinary Perseverance in a Demanding World.
In her book, Marshall—a pastor’s wife, mother of two energetic sons, and writes regularly at GlennaMarshall.com—walks through eight scenarios of everyday faithfulness and what obedience looks like in their midst. She covers faithfulness when you’re undisciplined, when your hands are full, when you’re waiting, when you doubt, when you’re suffering, when your heart is cold, when you sin, and when pursuing faithfulness to the end.
This is the book I need when calming a fussy baby at 3 a.m., the book I need when dishes fill the sink, the book I need when life feels small or hard or boring. As Marshall writes,
Many of us long to follow Jesus more closely, but we are more focused on our present circumstances than on a long view of faithfulness. . . . But a lifetime marked by steadfast faith doesn’t happen overnight. It’s built upon years and months of many ordinary days of ordinary perseverance. Though beautiful when traced in decades of retrospect, faithfulness is unremarkable in real-time practice. (19)
God primarily calls us to ordinary obedience: small, daily actions that don’t yield immediate results. Sure, there may be thrilling opportunities along the way—but that’s not what the Christian life is built on. Its foundation is the daily plodding of everyday perseverance. It’s a long game comprised of a thousand tiny thoughts, words, decisions, and moments. And though this perseverance is so much harder than many of us ever anticipated, it’s more precious to God than many of us realize.
I first read this book when I was seven months pregnant. I appreciated Marshall’s practical wisdom, biblical fidelity, and humble honesty. But I recently re-read it (now with a 1-month-old baby) and was blown away by how much Marshall’s words encouraged me. Her chapter on faithfulness when your hands are full is one every young mom (especially every new mom!) needs.
But it’s not just moms who will be encouraged by this book. As evidenced from the topics Marshall covers, this is a book for sinners, for sufferers, for doubters, for the discouraged, for the undisciplined, for any Christian who ever feels the pain of perseverance in a demanding world. If you’ve ever felt like your contributions to the kingdom seem insignificant, Everyday Faithfulness will be balm to your soul.
Portraits of Everyday Faithfulness
My favorite part is the brief profiles of women at the end of each chapter. Of course, there are many women Marshall could’ve chosen, women throughout history who have been faithful in both ordinary life and extraordinary ways. But she chose nine women whom none of us has heard of—nine women who will not be lauded for their books, their missionary journeys, or their public displays of faithfulness. She chose nine ordinary women whose “unremarkable” faithfulness makes them giants in the kingdom of God. These are the women who have great eternal rewards coming to them. In a society obsessed with visible results and measurable success, this is a reminder we need.
If you’ve ever felt like your contributions to the kingdom seem insignificant, this book will be balm to your soul.
The most faithful saints I have known and loved all have had the same trait: a determination to follow Jesus more today than yesterday. . . . They’re regular folks. . . . They are proof that our daily decisions to follow Christ closely are incredibly important for our perseverance in the faith. Perhaps more than we realize. (20)
This summer I’m not traveling to Europe. Instead, I’m home with a baby, changing diapers and doing middle-of-the-night feedings and struggling to find time to read my Bible. Faithfulness looks much different at home than on a stage. I’m tempted to feel constricted by its smallness, discouraged by its everyday difficulty. But Glenna Marshall has reminded me that this ordinary work is not any less glorious. In fact, this perseverance might be the most important work I do.
God has given us all a mission: be faithful. Every day. In whatever circumstances we’re in. Don’t belittle the work he’s called you to. Instead, be encouraged that this work is paving the way for a lifetime of perseverance. A lifetime of becoming more like Christ. A lifetime leading to the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
The Gospel Coalition