The Grind

grindSophia, #2 of our 3 Granddaughters, was just post-toddler when she discovered PawPaw’s famous horsey rides.

Now this was no normal knee-bouncing pony ride.

It was epic–legendary among her older cousins.

I bounced her wildly on my knee, her blonde locks flying everywhere as if she had mounted a fleeting steed. Then, at just the right moment, I would kick my foot straight out so she would free fall nearly to the floor, when my leg would pop up just in time to catch her and bring her back to proper riding position.

She was Guinevere galloping side-by-side with Arthur and the Knights!

Ok, maybe not so much–but she loved it! For her it was adventure she wanted to repeat–often.

Her inevitable response was one breathless word: “Again!”

For me, the ever-spoiling PawPaw who would repeat the rides over and over until I had leg cramps, the response was ultimately a cry for mercy: “NOT again!!”

One of the most soul-killing experiences in life is routine.

Those are the moments when we fill like grist for the mill of the daily grind and we simply sigh–or scream–“Not again!”

  • The caregiver repeating the same instructions for the umpteenth time to a forgetful elder
  • The mother changing yet another dirty diaper for a demanding baby
  • The office worker making the millionth pile of copies that no one ever reads
  • The middle-aged guy trying to get back in shape with just one more lap around the neighborhood
  • The piano student with dreams of being the next Van Cliburn but running one more scale on the ivories

Now I know life has its moments of trauma and drama. I’ve lived through some of the worst.

But most of life is daily–the rut and rub of routine that makes you sometimes wonder why you are getting out of bed to do it one more time.

The truth is, we cannot run from the treadmill of life…we must run on it.

To avoid losing hope and motivation in those unremarkables of the everyday, we have to find something more–something real and valuable.

Treasure in the mud.

Jesus actually told us that we would find His Kingdom there.

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” (Matthew 13:44)

He didn’t say you’d find the King there. He said the Kingdom–that place of living where the King is in charge and can be Himself.

To find your sphere of life where God wants to demonstrate what He is like and what He can do–you have to look in the mud! The Kingdom is found in the daily.

God’s highlight reel is your daily routine!

Honestly, in seasons where my life is so “normal” as to be inane, that is sometimes very hard to believe.

What makes any season in life feel like a grind?

  • It gets too mundane. Life’s norms can quickly make you feel like you really don’t matter and aren’t making any difference. The menial, banal ordinariness of the day can quickly sap your sense of purpose or identity.
  • It feels too confining. Too often the stuff of life feels limiting and constricting. It easily robs you of a sense of personal freedom or authentic creativity. Sameness is a slippery slope into drab and colorless existence.
  • It seems too boring. The routines and ruts we experience every day will make words about “destiny”, “adventure” or “risky living” sound like the adult voice to Charlie Brown, “Wah-wah-wah-wah-wah.”
  • It is too easy. Living the normal life often leaves you unchallenged. You feel like a robot could do it. Your heart gets carpal tunnel syndrome from the repetitive motion injury of generic subsistence.

So those gnawing feelings beg the question, how do I find any purpose and significance in my monotonous regularity?

  • When life gets mundane, remember: there is meaning under it. Beneath the ruts of daily-ness, God is forging the faithfulness that you will need when demanding moments come.
  • When life feels confining, remember: there is more to it. The rich facets of grace that are working in the deeper parts of the real you will be seen when the pressure is on.
  • When life seems too boring, remember: there is a message in it. Somewhere in the “carpenter shop” of your development is the “Jesus” that will make a world of difference.
  • When life is too easy, remember: there is mission beyond it. Rest in the quiet stretches of the stream of life, because without fail the rapids will come and you will need your strength.

I love classic Jazz. The free-flowing riffs are the white-water rapids of music. Spontaneity, freedom–even rewriting musical rules on the fly–those are the things that make Jazz great. And you can feel it watching the jive masters at work.

But great Jazz is freedom of musicianship built on years of practiced discipline in the fundamentals. You can’t vamp if you don’t know your scales. You can’t freestyle if form isn’t embedded in you. Until the basics are a knee-jerk reaction, jamming is not an option.

You may feel like you are digging in the mud right now. But these are the moments when the traits you will need, the character you must have and the depth you can’t live without is unearthed.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)

Here’s a daily reminder: even that rich, deep, aromatic, essential cup of coffee that makes your morning tolerable and helps you keep the daily pace–first requires…

the grind.

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