MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Monday, April 1st. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Andree Seu Peterson now on discovering purpose in the mundane.
ANDRÉE SEU PETERSON: Sometimes, in mid-footfall, I get confused: am I rushing about my work so that I can eat, or am I eating so that I can work? All this striving, where does it tend to, where is the payoff, the meaning? “All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full….All the toil of man is for his mouth, yet his appetite is not satisfied” (Ecclesiastes 6:7).
When I was a child Tennessee Ernie Ford scared me out of wanting to grow up. With bass-baritone terror he sang: “You load sixteen tons and what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt….I owe my soul to the company store.”
When I was a teenager the Beatles picked up the glum refrain and applied it to religious endeavor too: “Father McKensie…darning his socks in the night when there’s nobody there. What does he care?” High school teachers collaborated, with infusions of Henry David Thoreau observing that “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.”
In college, Friedrich Nietzche told us God had died, so after college I bought a backpack and a ticket for Europe, so as to make the most of meaninglessness. But God, whose death had been greatly exaggerated, met me on a mountain in Switzerland, on the lamb, some latter-day Jonah. He went to the trouble of raising up a lifeline just for me, named Francis Schaeffer who titled his books things like The God Who Is There. God knew that was the kind of God I needed.
A man in the Russian Gulag had had enough. He decides he has carried his last stone from pile A to pile B for his tormentors in this Sisyphean farce. He lays himself down to await certain execution by shovel blade. Just then a fellow prisoner sidles up and, wordless, traces the shape of a cross in the dust; walks away. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn then gathers himself together and scoops up another rock—this time knowing why.
Malcolm Muggeridge, a brand plucked from the fire, said on on William F. Buckley’s Firing Line that the happiest person in the world is the woman who sweeps her house to the glory of God. She is not aware of the grievousness of her days because she has transcended them with knowledge; she has “overcome” and will receive the hidden manna and also a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to her (Revelation 2:17).
Scene 1: Willy Loman, working for Willy Loman, walks in, stage right, carrying in tow large sample cases: The Death of a Salesman.
Let’s revise: Willy Loman, walks in, stage right, carrying two large sample cases, saying to his ransomed soul each day he plies his humble work: “Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58).
For WORLD Radio, I’m Andrée Seu Peterson.