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To live ‘coram deo’

Finding our greatest calling in the grime of everyday life.

Some call it the witching hour. That lost piece of time, like a forgotten tune, tucked between pages of homework, serving supper and filling the tub, the space between unpacking the dishwasher and packing school lunches, brushing little teeth and saying prayers and quickly washing clothes because your oldest son has run out of pants – and then, back to your daughter’s room because even though you’ve hugged her fourteen times, she’s somehow forgotten.

That hour. Or three.

But even as my husband sits and folds laundry and I scrub yesterday’s spaghetti from chair cushions, even as we glance at each other and note the crease of a tired frown, we sink deeper into a surrendered posture of worship.

Because that’s what this is.

It’s not a witching hour. It’s our greatest calling. To live coram Deo.

All of life is religious

When asked what the big idea of the Christian life was, R.C. Sproul said, “It is coram Deo.” When pressed, he explained that coram Deo was a Latin phrase translated “in the presence of God,” and that when lived, it meant, to be continuously aware of being in the presence of, under the authority of, and to the honor and glory of God.

“The Christian who compartmentalizes his or her life into two sections of the religious and the nonreligious has failed to grasp the big idea,” writes Sproul. “The big idea is that all of life is religious or none of life is religious. To divide life between the religious and the nonreligious is itself a sacrilege.”

Sometimes I rush the dishes, the reading of stories, the cooking of supper or the putting to bed because I feel something else is more spiritual somehow – like writing this column, or working at a nonprofit, or even leading Bible study. That somehow those things matter more than these seemingly mundane things. But such is to miss the point.

It is to miss the point that the same word for “work” in Hebrew (Avodah) means to worship.

And I wonder if these acts of service for one another, these ways of loving one another sacrificially in the shadow of Romans 12:1, aren’t also God’s love language? When we work with joy, whatever we do, we in fact speak His love language. Whether we eat or drink or change diapers or do laundry, we do it all for the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31).

Rest and worship

We are created in the image of One who worked for six days, and then rested. And when he worked, what did he do? Did he build himself a cathedral? Did he write sonnets in the sky? Did he preach from a pulpit?

No, He planted a garden.

I grew up in a home where church felt like the true calling. I grew up thinking if only I could become something significant like a minister or a missionary, maybe then I would matter.

Until I realized that I already mattered to a Father who had woven me together, who knew my name from before the creation of the world, who declared “The Lord your God is with you . . . (He takes) great delight in you . . . (He rejoices) over you with singing.” (Zeph. 3:17)

We do not work to appease him. We do not work to earn his approval. No, it is our undignified dance before a King who’s already done everything for us – and so we serve one another from this resting place, with joy, called to this very hidden purpose in these folds of time. For in doing so, we wash the feet of a Savior who sees what is done in secret. This, is what it means to live coram Deo.

Author

  • Emily Wierenga is a wife and mother who is passionate about the church and lives in northern Alberta. She is the author of the memoirs Atlas Girl and Making it Home (Baker Books), and the founder of a non-profit working in Africa and Asia.

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