Gratitude for ‘The Grind’

Life in Columbia, Missouri, is – to my way of thinking, anyway – somewhat unique in that so much of what goes on here is tied to the academic calendar of the University of Missouri.

Perhaps that’s not too surprising, since well over 32,000 students ebb and flow back into our modest city with the onset and end of Mizzou’s Spring Break. Prior to moving here in 1992, I was not at all accustomed to the local public school system “cooperating” in any way with the schedule of a nearby college or university. Even The Crossing‘s campus was something of a ghost town from Monday the 23rd to Friday the 27th – ample testimony to just how many college-age men and women are part of our congregation.

Working on a Computer

As a university employee, my work load is pretty consistent throughout the year; an “empty” campus really has little to do with what’s piled up on my desk, so a student holiday doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a holiday from my work. This year, however, my wife and I decided to take a break from the daily grind of too much to do and not enough time to get it done. So we made the necessary arrangements and, alongside those thousands of college students and our young son, took the week of Spring Break off. And what a great break it was!

Yet all good things must come to an end, and thus today we are both “back at it,” fully enmeshed in the fabric of work, school, home, ministry and more. I have to think most adults can readily identify to the feeling that comes from getting “back in the zone” after a refreshing break.

As a younger man who did not know Christ, I can recall that the end of any sort of break from routine came packaged with at least a few negative emotions such as sadness, resignation, wistfulness…and maybe even a bit of resentment. Invariably, these sorts of feelings were tied to both immaturity and a grossly-inflated sense of entitlement: “Why do I have to come back to the same-old, same-old?”

Ninth Street in Columbia

Now that I am older, the blessing of the everyday has really come to mean a lot to me, both personally and for those I love. I blame Ravi Zacharias for this.

More than a few times, I have had the pleasure of listening to Ravi as he expounds upon what he calls “a child’s sense of wonder at the monotonous.” To make his point, Ravi will ask his hearers to recall how a small child simply wants to do the same thing over and over again, long after it has become tiresome to the adults at hand. Was jumping from the couch to the carpeted floor fun? Do it again! And again! (And again!) Adults, by contrast, tend to lose their sense of awe at the rhythmic, repeated patterns of life. We find ourselves bored at work, bored with 500 channels of cable, bored with the daily commute, etc.

For me, my sense of Who God is “shrinks” whenever I start to take His daily blessings for granted.

By contrast, whenever I stop to consider how many different things had to go right for me to get out of bed and begin my work day, I find that I am more likely to see how amazing, loving, merciful and sustaining God is. When I compare the “mundane” details of my own life to those in the news whose lives have been forever changed by a change in their “mundane” circumstances, my heart can enlarge sufficiently to accept the tremendous gifts of life, breath, the ability to walk, the sight of my son walking into school, and so on.

The Missouri River

Thank God that He does not get “bored” with causing the sun to rise every morning and set every evening. Thank God that He has seen fit to keep my heart beating all these years – and this despite my best efforts to self-destruct as a young man. I am grateful that I have a job to return to after a much-needed break. Thank You, Lord, for sustaining my family physically, emotionally and financially during this period of our lives together. Having lived portions of my life where I have been deprived of these blessings, I no longer take them for granted. Any day I can get out of bed and walk to the shower unassisted is a great day.

Lord, thank You for the daily rhythm of life that You have established. Thank You for the seasons, even the cold ones. Thank You for the blessings of employment, health, friends, food, discipleship, community and the ability to give to others. How freely You distribute “boring” blessings to the undeserving and ungrateful!

Colossians 3:15-17
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

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