The Common Task – F.B. Meyer

The following is a chapter, "The Common Task", from F.B. Meyer's Light on Life's DutiesDoes
the word "common" seem like a sigh?  Do you feel your heart soaring with eagles, while your
everyday experience seems grounded with the turkeys?  Part of knowing the Word of God is 
comprehending the very practical plan and love of God for each of us.  A glorious journey
with Christ is not inaccessible, no matter who we are (and no matter who we are not!).  This
post is the first in a 6-part series as I transcribe this brief chapter one section at a time. 

A young friend, richly gifted, but who is tied by inexorable necessity to an office stool, has complained to me that his life afforded no outlet for the adequate exercise of his powers.

His groan is a very common one. So many grumble about the monotony of life’s dead-level, which the great majority of us have to traverse. The upland paths which give an ecstacy to tread in the bracing air and the expanding glory of the world are for the few.

For most of us it is the trivial round, the common task. Each morning the bell calls to the same routnie of commonplace toil. Each hour brings the same programme of trifles. There seems no chance for doing anything heroic, which will be worth having lived for, or will shed a light back on all past, and forward on all coming days.

But there are two or three considerations, which, if wrought into the heart, will tend to remove much of this terrible depression.

(I)–All Life is Part of a Divine Plan

As a mother desires the best possible for her babes, bending over the cradle which each occupies in turn, so does God desire to do His best for us all. He hates nothing that He has made, but has a fair ideal for each, which He desires to accomplish in us with perfect love. But there is no way of transferring it to our actual experience, except by the touch of His Spirit within, and the education of our circumstances without.

He has chosen the cirucmstances of our life, because they are the shortest path, if only we use them as we should, to reach the goal on which He has set His heart. He might have chosen some other country–China, India, Italy, or Mexico.[1] He might have chosen some other age–that of the Flood, the Exodus, or of the early martyrs. He might have chosen some other lot–a royal court, a senate, a pulpit, or an author’s desk. But since he chose this land, this age, and your lot (whatever it may be), we must believe that these presented the likeliest and swiftest way for realizing His purpose.

If, my brother, you could have reaced your truest manhood as an emperor or a reformer, as a millionaire or a martyr, you would have been born into one of those positions; but since you are only an obscure pastor or teacher, a laborer, or an ordinary business man, you will find right beside you the materials and possibilities of a great life. [2]

If, my sister, you could have attained to the loftiest development of your nature by being an entrepreneur, a missionary or noted author and speaker, or a rich man’s wife, or a royal, you would have found yourself placed there; but since your lot is that of a co-laboring wife, a “toiling” mother, or an overworked caregiver for others, you must believe that, somewhere within your reach, if only you will search for them, you will discover the readiest conditions of a noble and useful life.

Who can wonder at the complaints of the aimlessness, the vanity, the weariness of life? People either have no plan, or they have got a wrong one. “What’s the fashion?” “What do others do?” “What’s the correct thing?” How much better and wiser to believe that God has a perfect plan for each of us, and that He is unfolding it a bit at a time, by the events which He puts into our life each day!

Before Moses built the Tabernacle, he saw the whole pattern of it in prophetic vision. In some secluded spot on Sinai’s heights it stood before him, woven out of sunbeams; and he descended to the mountain foot to repeat it in actual curtains, gold, and wood. God does not show us the whole plan of our life at a burst, but unfolds it to us bit by bit. Each day he gives us opportunity of weaving a curtain, carving a peg, fashioning the metal. We know not what we do, but at the end of our life the disjointed pieces will suddenly come together, and we shall see the symmetry and beauty of the Divine thought. Then we shall be satisfied.

In the meantime let us believe God’s love and wisdom are doing the very best for us. In the morning ask God to show you His plan for the day in the unfolding of its events, and to give you grace to do or bear all that He may have prepared. In the midst of the day’s engagements, often look up and say, “Father, is this the plan?” At night, be still, and match your actual with God’s idea, confessing your sins and shortcomings, and asking that His will may be more perfectly done in you, even as in heaven.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this 6-part series on The Common Task.


[1] Meyer wrote this to a North American audience. God has indeed chosen these other countries for great works of God, and my reader may be in or from any number of countries. This country you are in or from wherever you have come is God’s sovereign design for you. This was Meyer’s message to his reader.

[2] Meyer wrote in a different time and so his illustrations may seem dated to the modern reader, so I attempted an updated version of his examples of “laudatory” and obscure situations.

[3] ibid.

Source Notes:

This text has been transcribed with some adaptation (as noted in the footnotes) from the chapter entitled “The Common Task” in Rev. F. B. Meyer’s Light on Life’s Duties, published in 1896 (Fleming H. Revell Co.) and now in public domain. Full text is available at HathiTrust Digital Library.

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