God in the Mundane
About the Guest
Redeemer Church of Dubai - Dave and Gloria Furman's church in the United Arab Emirates
Two Ways to Live: The Choice We All Face
Gloria FurmanGloria Furman is a wife, mother of four young children, doula, and blogger. In 2008, her family moved to the Middle East to plant Redeemer Church of Dubai, where her husband, Dave, serves as the pastor. She is the author of Glimpses of Grace, Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full, and The Pastor’s Wife, and blogs regularly at the Gospel Coalition and GloriaFurman.com.
Gloria Furman, talks about the day she realized that her mom duties weren’t interruptions to her spiritual growth, but that God wanted to interact with her amongst the dishes and the diapers.
God in the Mundane
Bob: The decisions we make, as moms and dads, happen day in and day out; but Gloria Furman reminds us—we need to have the long view in mind / the eternal perspective.
Gloria: Jonathan Edwards had a prayer—he said, “Lord, stamp eternity on my eyeballs.” I pray that often—to see my children as eternal beings. When I am tempted to reduce them to “that whiny noise underneath my knees,” or “the mess that I have to pick up before I go to bed,”—when they’re reduced to that is when we start going down that slope of “This isn’t worthwhile.”
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, July 11th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Every day / every minute really does matter as we raise our children. We’ll see if we can catch some glimpses of God’s grace in the midst of the mundane as we talk to Gloria Furman today.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Monday edition. I have a question for you; okay?
Bob: You’ve been in settings where people are talking about something that was going on in their life—they were with a group of people or something—and they will say, “And then God just showed up.” You’ve heard people say that; right?
Bob: So the question is: “Where was He before that?” [Laughter]
Bob: You know—haven’t you ever wondered when they say, “And God showed up,”—and I’m going: “No, He was there before. Maybe you just weren’t as aware of Him being there.”
Dennis: Well, back last winter, when we got up one morning and the temperature gauge had plunged to a record low—you remember—
Bob: I remember. It was chilly; yes.
Dennis: You remember that? I turned on the water to wash my hands in the morning. There was a drip that came out—was not a good sign.
Bob: Just one drip?
Dennis: One drip—[Laughter]—no water. We had no water in the house. I called a neighbor a few minutes later because it was early, and I didn’t want to wake anybody up. The neighbor said, “No, we have water.” He said, “We don’t have heat, but we have water.” [Laughter] I go, “I’ll trade you some heat for some water.” Anyway, I was just sitting there, thinking / I was going: “You know? Where is God in the midst of this?”
Dennis: A lot of us face issues in our lives—as husbands, wives, moms, dads, grandparents, single people—where, in the midst of it—to your point, Bob, we miss God in the midst of life.
Bob: Well, it’s not like—when the pipes were frozen at your house—it’s not like God was—had moved out for awhile and comes back: “Oh, I forgot to wrap the pipes. I’m sorry.” [Laughter] Or it’s not like your neighbor, next door, without the electricity—is God: “I forgot to pay the bill.” God’s in the midst of all of that; isn’t He?
Dennis: He is, and He wants us to recognize His presence—to your point—as we face what some would call mundane issues.
In fact, that’s what Gloria Furman calls “a good bit of life—the mundane issues of life.” Isn’t that right, Gloria?
Gloria: That’s right! It’s mundane. [Laughter]
Dennis: There’s a reason why she does that. Gloria is a wife, a mom of four—ages six and under. I’m wondering how anyone could refer to four children, six and under, as mundane.
Dennis: That’s a circus happening.
Gloria: It is. But when the circus is every day—all day—it becomes the normal.
Bob: And especially—and here’s the thing—because you’re raising four kids, six and under, in a three-bedroom flat in downtown Dubai.
Gloria: Right. That’s right.
Dennis: Now, we have to explain why she’s in Dubai. She and her husband Dave have started a church, and you have like a thousand people coming to your church?
Dennis: That’s not mundane!
Dennis: Sixty, seventy / eighty nationalities showing up at the church; but in the midst of this, you had a chance to craft a book called Glimpses of Grace. It’s about, really—about life, as a mom, and finding God in the midst of it; right?
Gloria: That’s right!
Dennis: When did that moment come for you?
Gloria: The moment came for me, I think, when our first child was born. I was finishing up seminary at that time. I had about six weeks left of class, and Eliza was born. I realized that I had put all of my spirituality into routines that were so fixed / that did not include a child.
I was sitting there—I remember sitting in my rocking chair, looking out the window—it was four o’ clock in the morning or some obscene hour. I was awake with the baby. I was praying. I looked out at the lights and I thought: “Lord, are you meeting with anyone else right now? Can you meet with me right now?—because this isn’t my normal quiet time.”
Gloria: That journey, for me—of realizing that God was at work in the mundane—I think kind of began there because, up until that point, I was fairly well-controlled over all of my circumstances—at least, I felt.
Bob: Are you a disciplined, kind of Type-A person?
Gloria: Yes. I would probably say that I am; but right now, my discipline is just, “Do I know where the diapers are?”
Bob: Well, and that’s the point—when you are a mother of four—and now the routine is defined by them rather than by you—it can throw a lot of young moms for a real curve.
Gloria: It sure did. I had actually compartmentalized God into one little corner of my apartment—in a rocking chair, during a certain hour of the day. After that hour, I would close my Bible and just go about my business.
Dennis: I think this is probably an illness that a good bit of Christians suffer from. We typically reserve Sunday for our experience with God—on Sunday morning—sing a few songs, a little prayer, a little preaching of the Scriptures, and we walk out through the door, and we’re not experiencing God on an ongoing basis the other six and three-quarter days of the week.
Gloria: Right; “Where did He go?”
Dennis: He’s there.
Dennis: He wants you to interact with Him and to find Him “showing up,” like Bob was talking about earlier.
Bob: So, in the middle of the night—and your first baby was one who did not sleep through the night quickly or easily.
Gloria: Not at that moment; no!
Bob: As your routine was being interrupted, you had to learn that your relationship with God was never designed to be just a compartment in your life; right?
Gloria: That’s right.
Bob: So, tell us about how that process began to evolve for you.
Gloria: It began to evolve with, first, me being very sad / I was very discouraged. I looked at all the things that I now had to do, as a young mom, as interruptions to what God was going to do in my life. I would make grand plans—reading plans, memory plans, prayer plans—and then I would start them and then halt: “Baby’s crying,” “Someone’s at the door,” “I have these chores.”
I realized that God is going to use these things / ordinary things to change me / to grow me—awareness. Glimpses of Grace is an awareness campaign—that, “God is in the mundane, and He is working.”
Dennis: So how do you catch God at work in the midst of changing a diaper?
Gloria: I think a tenderness of heart—that the Lord is with you at all times. Something that particularly encourages me is actually the Great Commission: “Go therefore, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. I am with you always, even to the end of the age. All things have been given to Me.”
That empowers me, knowing that Jesus is over all things. He promised never to leave me. So, if He is with me to the end of the age, He is with me to the end of that road trip, or that drop-off for school, or this colic phase for my infant, or this troublesome discipline situation I have with my toddler. He is with me in those moments. As I’m making disciples / discipling my children, Jesus is with me; and that encourages me:
“I’m not on my own—alone in that.”
I think we, as young moms, look to one another and say, “Oh, look, I’m not alone,”—which is true—but there is Someone who is ever-present and empowering us to do our work of discipleship.
Bob: You had a spiritually-defining moment when you were in college—when your faith went from being superficial to being substantive; right?
Gloria: That’s right.
Bob: Tell us about what happened and what changed.
Gloria: I was in college—in a freshman girls’ Bible study. I had been there for about a month-and-a-half or so, and I wanted to quit. I didn’t feel comfortable.
Dennis: Why did you go in the first place?
Gloria: I was invited.
Bob: Had you grown up going to church?
Bob: Was that a part?
Gloria: Yes; yes.
Bob: You thought of yourself as a Christian?
Bob: So, getting involved in a Bible study was not like, “Oh, I guess I’ll go see what these weird Christians believe.” [Laughter] It was you doing what “good Christian girls do.”
Gloria: Sure. It seemed natural. I wasn’t certain if I had a Bible and where I had put it with my college stuff—but I got one—and went to this Bible study, and had a workbook that accompanied it. I began to be uncomfortable with doing the workbook because all the other young ladies in the study would read the answers—the same answers that I wrote down—but it would be from their hearts. They would say how God had changed them and how He had personally met them in His Word. I was like, “I’m looking at the same Word she is, and I do not understand why there’s an emotional connection to this.” I kind of looked at it as a book—“We’re in school; we’re studying.”
I told my leader: “I don’t really feel comfortable doing this Bible study anymore. I think you girls are great! So, please call me. Let’s go hang out.” She said: “I think perhaps it’s because you’re not a Christian. I don’t know that you’re a born-again Christian.” I said: “Well, of course, I’m a Christian. I’m American. I went to church when I was a young girl. I know things about God.
“I could tell you how to spell Nebuchadnezzar. I know—you know—I know stuff.”
She’s like: “You don’t have to know stuff to know Christ / to have Him know you personally. You need to be born again.” She walked through what it means to be born again. She had the audacity—the loving, bold audacity—to suggest: “Perhaps your faith isn’t grounded in who Christ is. Perhaps you just have the trappings.”
Bob: Were you insulted?
Gloria: Yes; because I had never heard that you had to be born again—not in a way that I understood. I’m sure that someone had shared the gospel with me, at some point—multiple times, probably, over the course of my childhood—but I didn’t have ears to hear, and my eyes were blind. God hadn’t opened my eyes to see His truth in His Word. At that moment was when God had chosen to save me.
Bob: So, how did you move from insulted to converted?
Gloria: She shared the gospel with me—she said: “We’re lost. We’re dead in our sin. Sin isn’t just things that you do that are bad. Sin is also things that you don’t do that you ought to do—like worship God.” She said, “It’s by grace through faith.”
That stood out to me. By the end of that phone conversation, it was as though—when Peter was preaching to the people in Acts, they, at the end of his sermon / they said, “What must we do to be saved?” I remember feeling chaos in my heart because I was lost! Until that moment, I would have said I was trying hard and “God knows that I’m trying. He’s going to take whatever I can give.”
Dennis: You became aware of your lostness.
Gloria: I was aware for the first time.
Dennis: And in a matter of minutes moved from being insulted to—
Gloria: ‘Save me Jesus!’
Dennis: And, what happened?
Gloria: I started going back to the Bible study again! [Laughing] I was baptized several months later, continued on in that college ministry, and—yes; the rest is history I suppose.
Bob: Part of the reason I wanted you to share that story—really two reasons—one is because we may have some folks listening who are in that kind of, “Yes, I think Jesus is a good thing,” phase that you were in—who need to hear, “No, there’s something more than just, ‘He’s a good Savior, if you’re an American.’”
I think it’s important for listeners to know what we’re talking about when we talk about being a Christian / when we talk about loving Jesus. We’re talking about something that is at a different level than just the superficial relationship you had. Any listener can have the same moment you had if they’ll surrender their life to Christ and see Him the way you saw Him; right?
Dennis: And this is a marriage and family radio program that we have here—so I think it’d be appropriate to use an illustration. When you got married, you ultimately had to decide if you were going to make the commitment to the other person.
Bob: You went from dating to something a little more formal.
Dennis: You made a commitment and said, “I choose you.” I think, for a lot of people—they’ve been around things of Jesus Christ—the Scriptures, church, around the people of God.
Bob: See some things they like—
Dennis: Yes. But they’ve never come to the point of surrender and commitment.
A Christian is a follower of Jesus Christ, who’s made a decision to make a commitment to say: “I’m in. I want You as my Savior, You did what I couldn’t do for myself. You paid the price for my sins. I need forgiveness. I need to get out of this lost state, and I need You to lead me where I should go.”
Bob: I’ll mention to our listeners: “If you go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, there’s a link there that says, “Two Ways to Live.” It’ll lay this out for you—the difference that we’re talking about—and help you understand what it means to have a living relationship with the living God, through a relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ.”
But the other reason I wanted you to tell that story is because that turning point in your life awakened in you some dreams of how you were going to now serve God with your life. As you were describing going to seminary, and studying, and preparing, and your prayer lists, and your “do” lists—and, all of a sudden now, you’re a wife and a mom.
All of this stuff you dreamed about kind of has to get set aside for a little while. There had to be some disappointment that came with, “I have to take care of these kids, and I really feel like I should be doing Kingdom stuff instead of just taking care of kids!”
Gloria: It is so tempting to feel that way—especially when I carry around that perspective—that’s a struggle. I wouldn’t say that I have necessarily conquered that and felt victorious over every mundane moment of my life, knowing that I’m doing God’s Kingdom work.
But the moment that I realized how false it was to think that my ministry is on hold until these children are grown—until I realized how false that idea was—I was really kind of steeped in that thinking that, “Diapers, dishes, meals,”—reset—“Diapers, dishes, meals,”—reset—“Make the bed just to lie in it over again.”
Spiritually-speaking, I thought that: “When I’m finished with this—I’ll do a good job. I’ll be a good mom—and then God’s going to use me. He’s preparing me for something after this.” Not realizing that this is what God’s called me to do.
Bob: I want you to just spend a little time unpacking that because there are a lot of moms who feel like their service for Christ / what they want to do to love God is on hold because they have all of this stuff they have to take care of right now. They’re a little frustrated by it. How do they go from being frustrated to being full of joy at the assignment God has for them right now?
Gloria: Jonathan Edwards had a prayer—he said, “Lord, stamp eternity on my eyeballs.” I pray that often—to see my children as eternal beings—potential little brother in Christ / potential little sister in Christ.
They have souls, and they are cherished so much by our Heavenly Father. When I am tempted to reduce them to “that whiny noise underneath my knees,” or “that very odd smell coming from the other room,” or “the mess that I have to pick up before I go to bed,”—when they’re reduced to that is when we start going down that slope of “This isn’t worthwhile.”
Dennis: Talk with a mom who has lost sight of what you just were talking about. She’s lost sight of the goal—that, “These children that God has given you are a part of the Great Commission.” We’re called to make disciples and to replicate ourselves to the next generation. Really, if you look at a mom—and for that matter, a dad too—you really are at the heart of discipleship as you shape the soul, and character, and conscience of the next generation.
Gloria: That’s right. I would remind that mom that: “You’re not alone. Christ is with you. He’s promised to be with you to the end of the age as you are going about His work of making disciples.”
I would also encourage her to remember that children are people.
We often have these dreams / these grandiose dreams of ministering to people with all of these gifts that God has given us. Those dreams are good; but I think, in our minds, we think of those people as adults. We forget that our children are people too, and we have gifts that we can give to them.
Bob: Do you find yourself—as your husband is fully-engaged in this church-planting effort in Dubai, God’s using you, not just in Dubai, but he’s been invited to speak in places all around the world—do you find yourself kind of going, “How about you stay home with the kids for awhile and let me go out and do the cool, spiritual ministry stuff?”
Gloria: That is also a great temptation. I remember specifically—one night, my husband called me and said that he had an opportunity to sit in a living room with some men from a country that is where the believers are persecuted.
He said, “I have an opportunity to sit in a living room with these men, and talk with them about church, and teach them about what a healthy church is.”
I remember that being an especially difficult day at home. I think the kids were running in a pack against—like a pack of wolves—like they had plotted against me. All day long they were doing this—and all the tricks that I have in my bag—and he said, “Well, could you put on a movie?” I’m like: “They’re fighting about what movie to watch! It’s not working.”
Dennis: I just want you to know that that occurs in Dubai; but it also occurs in
Bob: That’s right.
Gloria: That’s right.
Dennis: —yes—all over the country.
Gloria: That’s right. Yes! Yes. So he threw out a few suggestions for me because I was like, [weary sounding] “This is just a really long day.” Ultimately, I was like, “That’s fine,”—you know—“Go; go. That’s great.” And so: “Alright; dinner plans—let’s have cereal—Dad’s not coming home.” [Laughter]
Gloria: I remember bathing them, thinking: “I’m bathing them by myself again. Oh, I’m putting them to bed by myself again,” and “…preparing for the next morning by myself again.” It hit me, as I’m scrubbing my children down:
“I’m helping my husband equip these precious souls from this country. I’m also discipling these kids right in front of me!” It’s those moments that are really impactful because I remember standing over that bathtub.
Bob: He could not have been meeting with those guys he was meeting with if he’d had to come home and give the kids a bath and put them to bed.
Bob: There is a co-laboring. I know some women are kind of like, “Yes; but why is it that he always gets to do the cool stuff and I always get to do the dirty diapers and the bathing stuff?” They get a little frustrated with that; but when you recognize, “There’s a partnership going on here,” it does reorient your thinking; doesn’t it?
Gloria: It sure does.
Dennis: There are also those moments when you say, “I just can’t take much more of this,” and they’re in the more dramatic moments—like when you brought your son, Judson, home from the hospital. Take our listeners to that moment and what you learned in the process.
Gloria: Yes. My son, Judson, was born in Dubai.
I brought him home from the hospital, and he has two big sisters. They were so excited to see him. They had met him in the hospital, and he’s home. They want to show him his room, all their toys, and they want to touch him / they just want to squeeze him.
I had laid him down on the bed. I think I was diapering him. One sister got on him and said, “I’m picking up the baby!” Another one, “No, I’m picking up the baby!” They were fighting over him, pushing, pinching. Somehow, he got pushed and pinched at the same time. He starts squalling too—which, if you hear newborn baby cries, it’s just pathetic and so sad. I’m hormonal, of course—I’m like, “Don’t touch him!”
Gloria: Scooped him up off the bed and the girls were still arguing, “My brother!” I said, “Go to your room!” They were still fighting inside their room. I could hear them knocking around in there, and picking something to fight over that was So-and-so’s; and I was just holding little baby Judson. He was crying—he’d been pinched. I was trying to find where on his body did it hurt, and then I started crying—
—I was like, “How am I supposed to do this? I’m outnumbered, Lord.” I realized, in that moment: “I’m not alone—that the Lord is with me.”
Dennis: I think, as all of us go through life, there are those moments when we say, “I can’t take it anymore,” when you feel outnumbered, like you said you did / when you feel like your job is insignificant compared to someone else’s. That’s always a danger to compare where you are and the assignment God has for you with what He’s given someone else to do.
It’s in those moments that God calls us to step out in faith, and trust Him for whom He is, and say, “God, would You help me and my circumstances right now?”—whether it’s a messy floor because of spilled apple juice—you have to just take a step back and say: “God, I want to follow You. I want to be obedient to You, and I want to find You in the midst of this.”
Bob: You do have to have perspective.
Gloria, I think that’s what you’re providing for a lot of moms today / what you’ve provided for them in your book, which we’ve got in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center—it’s called Glimpses of Grace: Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home. You can order it from us, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY to order. Again, the website: FamilyLifeToday.com; or order by calling 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY,”—1-800-358-6329.
Gloria, you’re probably not even aware of this; but we have been wishing people a “Happy anniversary!” all year long. This is FamilyLife’s 40th anniversary as a ministry; and so, to celebrate, as the Proud Sponsor of Anniversaries™, we’ve been saying “Happy anniversary!” to people each day. Today, Lorenzo and Jackie Williams, who live in Houston, Texas, are celebrating 35 years together as husband and wife. They are Legacy Partners; they’ve been to the Weekend to Remember® three times. We just want to say, “Happy anniversary!” to Lorenzo and Jackie as you celebrate your 35th.
We think anniversaries are important because we think marriage and family is important—in fact, maybe more important in our day than ever before in the history of this country. That’s what FamilyLife Today is here for—to provide you with practical biblical help and hope for your marriage and your family.
We want to say “Thanks,” to those of you who partner with us in the work of this ministry as you provide financial support for us. If you’d like to help with a donation today, let me just say, in the middle of summer, it’s always a good time to help with a donation because this is the time of year when things get thin for ministries like ours. So a donation today is especially helpful. You can do that, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY to make a donation over the phone; or you can mail your donation to FamilyLife Today, PO Box 711, Little Rock, AR; the zip code is 72223.
Now, tomorrow, we want to talk about where a mom finds joy and contentment in the assignment that God has given her to raise the next generation. Sometimes, that’s hard to do; but Gloria Furman’s going to be back with us tomorrow. Hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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