Coram Deo & How to Make Your Life & Work Count for Eternity
Are your life and work making an impact for eternity?
This is an uncomfortable question. But perhaps this is the question behind the question of why we make new year’s resolutions. We desire to lay aside the things that hinder and distract us from fulfilling our life’s purpose. So we change external things, like cutting carbs, limiting screen time, and waking up earlier. We want to shed the things that weigh us down (both literally and figuratively) from fulfilling the work God has for us.
But even if we gain control of those areas, will that be enough to make our lives and work eternally significant?
Adoniram Judson, a missionary to Burma in the early 1800s, observed this tension between the fleeting nature of life and the desire to have one’s life marked for eternity. He wrote,
“A life once spent is irrevocable. It will remain to be contemplated through eternity. If it has been a useless life, it can never be improved. Such will stand forever and ever. How shall we then wish to see each day marked with usefulness! Only the future is in our power. Let us, then, each morning, resolve to send the day into eternity in such a garb as we shall wish it to wear forever. And at night let us reflect that one more day is irrevocably gone, indelibly marked.”
That’s a pretty high standard, but a few Latin phrases might shed more light on what Adoniram was getting at.
Live Coram Deo
by Carpe Diem
because Tempus Fugit
That is to say, live before the face of God (coram Deo), by seizing the day (carpe diem), because time flies (tempus fugit).
Coram Deo and why it matters
The term “coram Deo” is only found in two places in the Latin Vulgate (Psalm 55:13, and 56:13), but the idea is found throughout Scripture. These simple but profound truths are some of the first things we teach our kids: God is everywhere at all times (omnipresent) and he knows everything (omniscient). Even when Mom and Dad don’t see us…God does.
But the idea of coram Deo goes a step further and reaches into why this matters. Theologian and teacher R.C. Sproul explained it this way, “The essence of coram Deo is to live one’s entire life in the presence of God, under the authority of God, to the glory of God.”
Whether we acknowledge it or not, God sees everything we do. Living with this truth changes the way we do things. It makes us more aware of the choices we’re making. It elevates the mundane and gives it a holy purpose, and it has the power to transform what we do into worship.
Writing coram Deo
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately as I’ve been taking stock of my work. As writers, we’re used to measuring our work on worldly scales. We weigh our work’s worth with factors like book sales, email lists, and social media followers. But writing coram Deo turns those metrics on their head.
When we offer our heartfelt words as a form of worship, it means that our audience transforms from being thousands to being One. Writing in the presence of God, under the authority of God, to the glory of God is a good and holy work, even if it doesn’t receive the worldly recognition we desire. We find the principle of dedicating all of our work to God all over Scripture…
- “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24
- “Therefore, my beloved brothers, 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
- “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”1 Corinthians 10:31
- “For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward his name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.” Hebrews 6:10
As beautiful as the idea of writing before the face of God is, it might discourage us too. If we’re being honest, we’re not exactly carpe diem-ing or coram deo-ing. We desire to make an eternal impact with our words and work, but we want worldly success and recognition too.
Maybe we need to do an about-face, and align our perception with reality.
Dane Ortlund said,
“Our perception of and ability to see his rule may wax and wane; but that’s perception only. His actual rule holds steady – supreme, strong, exhaustive, all-seeing. No drug deal goes down apart from his awareness, no political scandal unfolds beyond the reach of his vision, no injustice can be exacted behind his back. When today’s world leaders gather together, they themselves are held in the hand of a risen Galilean carpenter.”
Let’s face it
Are your life and work making a mark on eternity? Sticking to your keto diet might make you more energetic and effective, but it’s the posture of your heart that will reverberate into eternity. We can’t change what’s past, so our daily resolve should be to live coram Deo. This will indelibly mark us as people ready not just for this life, but for the next.
Since everything under the sun is coram Deo, we might as well go all in. Let’s live, write, create, work, eat, sleep, move, and have our being under the all-seeing face of God, and carpe diem for his glory. Eternity is long, but life is short.
Sola Deo Gloria,
P.S. I’m excited to share a new thing I’ve been working on to help writers live and write coram Deo.
It’s called the Writers’ Bloc!
The Writers’ Bloc is an online community of writers with the express purpose to grow in the art and heart of writing. Together, we’ll seek to love God, love words, and love our readers.
To kick off this community, I’ve created what I believe is the most valuable (and beautiful) piece of content yet. It’s called Seasons of Creativity. It’s a 34-page guided workbook to help you identify and work with your creative season. Inside you’ll find seasonal devotionals, guided journaling exercises, and lots of information about how our creativity works in seasons. If you’d like this free workbook and to be placed on the Waitlist to learn more about the Writers’ Bloc, subscribe below. More info to follow soon!
Yes! It’s all about the posture of our heart – and it is all nothing without love.
What a beautiful gift the new workbook is too!
I’m so glad you like it, Eleanor! Thank you!
I love considering uncomfortable questions, and I think it is very important to consider if we are on the path to doing the work we are called to do regularly. Life is short. I sometimes think of the proverb about how it is better to attend a house of mourning than a house of feasting. Facing our mortality and thinking about eternity helps us see more clearly. Thank you for the very thought-provoking post.
So true, Sandra! Thank you for your comment!
Cara, so beautiful to be in the presence of God at all times. It helps me at work and when writing to write and work with God. Thank you for your encourment and Coram Deo.
I’m so thankful to hear that, Deborah! Blessings!
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”1 Corinthians 10:31
Like your post says, I hope to sit before the Savior and honor Him in all things
Such a great reminder going into this new year! No new year resolutions are worth it unless they are intended to bring God glory. Such a beautiful way to remind us of our Creator’s omniscience. Also, SO excited for your WritersBloc!! 👏🏻🎉