BY RJ GRUNEWALD
Psalm 145 says, “God feeds every living thing.”
A couple of weeks ago I ordered pizza for dinner. I didn’t pray, “Lord, give me pizza.” I called the store. The pizza did not drop down from heaven at my doorstep like manna from heaven. I paid for the pizza with my own hard-earned money.
So did God feed my family? Or did I feed my family?
In the Lord’s Prayer we pray a petition: “Lord, give us this day our daily bread.” How does God provide our daily bread? The answer is simpler than you might imagine.
God does these things through ordinary people doing their work. In people fulfilling their vocations, God is at work in the world, providing, protecting, and healing. So yes, God does feed my family. And the way that God feeds my family is through me ordering a pizza and the pizza parlor making it.
Martin Luther described this as the “mask of God.” He taught that God is hidden in ordinary people fulfilling their vocations. God is at work in police officers providing protection, he is at work entertaining in musicians creating art, and, as he wears the mask of the chef, he is at work providing food.
The Pizza from God
Let’s think about that pizza a bit more.
In order for me to eat pizza with my family that evening, I had to place a phone call to the restaurant. Thanks to the designers, marketers, manufacturers, and sales people at Apple I had a phone that could do the job. In order to get the appropriate phone number I googled the local pizza place. The search led to a website, which required a web designer.
When I called the number, an employee answered the phone and took my order. After she took my order, another employee made the pizza, though neither of those employees actually owned the business. Because I wanted to save some money, I didn’t have them deliver the pizza. Somebody had to design the car with which I picked up the pizza. Somebody had to assemble that car in the plant. People had to test it. Somebody had to build the engine. In order for the engine to run I had to put fuel in the car. In order for that car to be safe to drive in our city, somebody had to make sure the city was safe to drive in.
We’re already at hundreds of people who helped feed my family, and a lot of people have already been skipped. All these people to provide pizza and breadsticks.
To feed my family, God worked through web designers, employees at the pizza parlor, a small-business owner, police officers, car manufacturers, and so on. Each and every person doing their work was an important piece of my family having dinner that evening. You could even say that those hundreds of people were unknowingly serving my family, providing our daily bread. God was blessing me through others.
Your Work is Sacred
Many of us go to our jobs every day and don’t feel very spiritual about it. When you’re making another pizza, it hardly feels like the Lord’s work. The work might well feel even less spiritual to the stay-at-home mom who is trying to get another load of laundry in, the kids to bed, and the floors cleaned. Is it a sacred calling to answer another e-mail, enter data into an Excel spreadsheet, and get the TPS reports in on time?
In Genesis 28, Jacob leaves Beersheba, traveling to a place called Haran. When it gets dark out, he stops for the night and makes a pillow out of a pile of rocks. While he’s sleeping he has a dream and sees angels ascending and descending on a ladder.
And then he wakes up and makes this statement: “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it” (Genesis 28:16).”
God didn’t show up, as we sometimes like to say. He had been there the whole time. Jacob finally realized what God had been doing all along.
God is busy about his work in the midst of your work whether you realize it or not. The laundry, the spreadsheets, the phone calls, and the cups of coffee are all deeply spiritual because God is at work in the world. @@He is serving your family, your coworkers, and your community through the work you do.@@ God is at work providing “daily bread” through the work that you do, no matter what that work is.
RJ Grunewald is a Pastor at Faith in Troy, Michigan. He is a theology nerd who believes that theology isn’t just meant for the academics and dead guys but it is for everyday life. He is the author of The Art of Law & Gospel and Reading Romans with Luther. He’s also got a digital copy of The Art of Law and Gospel that you can download for free by subscribing to his emails. RJ has been married to his wife Jessica since 2007 and they have 3 kids, Elijah, Emaline, and Alice.