The other morning I was making my sons’ sandwiches for their lunches and I wondered to myself how many PB&J sandwiches I’ve made thus far in my lifetime. Two on this particular morning, plus a peanut butter and honey sandwich, all compounded by however many years I’ve been packing lunches for school, not to mention the sandwiches made back in the preschool years.
Hundreds of sandwiches. Thousands maybe.
I can’t say I found the thought exhilarating. Quite the opposite. It’s drudgery, it’s boring, making the same lunches day after day after day after day.
Everything is the same, I confessed to my friend in an email conversation. Day in and day out, it’s the same. Year in, year out, it’s the same. Same PB&J sandwiches. Same loads of laundry over and over and over again. Same filthy bathrooms. Same struggles. Same defeats. Same sins.
I think it was Eugene Peterson who described the Christian life as a long obedience in the same direction. The sameness, that I understand. Hello, I live sameness. But doesn’t it seem like obedience should be, well, a little more exciting? Maybe more like a slam dunk on the enemy, a “Take THAT!” to our sinful temptations, a victory lap around the court of life, fans cheering, pats on the back, anthems blaring?
I’ve discovered that most of our (my) obedience happens apart from the thrill of victory or cheers of others. Rather, obedience often manifests itself in the sameness, in the plodding, in the long view of life, when we choose to deny ourselves and serve Another, maybe by making one more PB&J sandwich, maybe by confessing that same sin and seeking that same free grace, maybe by choosing contentment in sameness.
I may be tempted to despise the sameness of my life today (and yesterday and the day before that and the day before that and…) but in just a few short years the dailiness of making PB&J sandwiches will be over and done. I forget that despite how stuck I may feel today life does indeed carry on. This stage, with its sameness, yes, as well as its unique challenges and joys and busyness, will transition into a different stage of life. And even if it does not there is yet that glorious day when the sameness of this life transitions to the blessed hope of the next. What then? What now?
Be wise, the writer of Ephesians tells us, and make the best use of the time (Eph. 5:15-16). So let’s make the same sandwiches day in and day out with joy. Let’s choose contentment in this day and this present circumstance. Let’s rejoice in the mercy of the Lord that is new every morning, mercy that is free and fresh no matter the sameness of your sin. Let’s live this day and all its sameness in the joy and grace of the Lord. Let’s be faithful in the long obedience in the same direction.