Grace for Today: The Daily Grind

given on Sunday, August 22, 2010

When I woke up yesterday morning, I let the dogs out and checked the rain gauge:  2.5 inches! When I went to sleep, it was lightening and raining some, but I certainly did not expect such an accumulation when I was watching the radar on the news and everything.  I thought it was going to be just a light shower.  Was I ever wrong!

Still it was the activities of the day that captured all of my attention yesterday, certainly not the weather forecast and all.  The daily grind took everything I had, and when I fell asleep it was for rest.  I heard nothing, dreamed nothing, and nothing woke me up and got me out of bed.  Most of you know that this is rare since dogs usually get me up at least once or twice, but last night was different.  The five days of returning to my daily grind zapped me.  My solid night’s sleep was evidence of God’s grace once again.

The daily grind is life.  The daily grind is how we keep our homes clean and families fed.  The daily grind is going to our jobs and working to make a living.  The daily grind includes surprises and extras that get thrown in along the way.  There is no respite from the daily grind; there is grace, though, if we take time to identify it.

This week I could identify grace in many shapes and forms.  It is difficult even to list because if I consciously sit down to write the moments of grace, the list would be something like Santa’s list, as he gets ready for Christmas deliveries.  Still making the list may be a good thing:

  • A new bedroom ceiling fan now provides a quiet, secure night’s sleep
  • Returning to work for one day to reconnect with one team worker, and a second day for the second one to join us—16 years of working together and knowing each other
  • Connecting with another knitter wanting to do charity knitting—at the district morning kick off
  • Interviewing students—not usually great news, but this week has left me feeling hopeful once again
  • A bank officer who loves to ride and shares his stories eagerly while helping us ‘buy’ into the fun
  • Fun messages on the phone while on hold—I really had to laugh
  • Great salesmen, young (especially in spirit), eagerly helping us and sharing their stories openly with us
  • Surprises orchestrated for someone else
  • Riding and feeling the wind racing past me
  • Butterflies, especially focused on the blossom right at my knee with us moving all around it
  • Clouds—bright white one in the sunshine against a blue sky and dark grey wildly dancing between cold and hot fronts
  • Stars soaking up the negatives of the day and replacing them with twinkles
  • Grandchildren chasing bubbles spinning in the air

And I must stop, because I do not think the list can end.  I think the list of God’s grace in our lives is truly infinite.  There is no beginning, no middle, and no ending.  God’s grace, his love, fills our lives even when we cannot possibly recognize it at the moment.

Today, as we listen to the news, continue the daily grind, and end the day closing our eyes on our pillows, try to spot all the evidence you can of God’s grace.  I doubt that you can end the day by saying that that is all the grace God provided today.

In today’s psalm, we hear the plea of one whose daily grind has worn one out.  It is so easy to be in those shoes/sandals because the daily grind gets in between God and us.  We can easily slip into complaining and whining and negative thoughts, even anger, simply because we are so caught up in the daily grind that we overlook God’s handiwork in the day.

Consider the Jet Blue flight attendant.  He certainly had a bad day at work.  The daily grind caught up to him and his normal passion for the job was absent.  He cracked, he exploded, and he escaped the daily grind.  Yet I can stop and hear the story through God’s ears and see evidence of God’s grace.

First, he came to work supposedly anxious about his mother’s cancer.  He did not call in and stay home; he went to fulfill his employer’s expectations.  He loved his job, all 20 years of it; but he had a bad day.  He chose a fairly safe means of blowing off his steam—no violent out lash at others, as we have witnessed on the news from other upset employees in our country.  Even his ex-wife provided testimony in his favor.  His daily grind usually was a positive for his life, but this one day it overtook his better judgment.  God probably was saddened by his behaviors, but he did not leave his side.

Each one of us has bad days.  We know how easy it can be to slip and react in an inappropriate manner.  Yet we do our best to carry out the Golden Rule and live as God asks us to live.  We are challenged to remember the Christian behaviors we choose to maintain.  We also are challenged to remember that God loves everybody, even those individuals—customers or service providers—who are having a bad day and taking it out on us.

Today the challenge placed before us is to serve as God’s hands and feet.  We are to love one another and provide evidence of God’s love even as we continue in our own daily grind.  The task might seem overwhelming, but I know each of you can do it—more importantly have been doing it for many years.

Consider the little things we do each and every day that is evidence of God’s grace.  Possibly it is offering a tissue to a person in line with a runny-nose toddler.  Maybe it is holding the door open for someone else regardless if their hands are empty or full.  What if you offer a cold drink to the delivery person as the new appliance is dropped off and installed.  Could you reach a box or can at the grocery store that the other customer could not reach?  As you reach the checkout, you encourage the person with a couple of items to go ahead and checkout before you begin unloading your full cart.

God’s grace surrounds us.  The daily grind can blind us.  How can we sit here comfortably understanding the words in the Bible and the hymns, yet not recognize our responsibility as messengers of God’s love?  I believe that we do, we just do not recognize that it was exactly what God expects us to do.  At the same time, do we recognize God in the actions of others who reach out in love to us?

God’s grace is everywhere.  God’s grace should be so automatic in our lives to give and to receive that we can acknowledge it with praise and thanksgiving.   We should be able to end each day knowing that we did not err in loving one another.  We should be able to go to sleep listing our blessings without ending, just sleeping.  Is this not a form of prayer?

Our hymns today are ones to remind us of our faith and of the value of God’s grace in our lives.  We are to follow God wherever he leads us.  We are to recognize that our faith is our rock and that we can depend on God even on the worst of our days.  And on those truly miserable days when the daily grind has worn down your Christian spirit, God is there.  You need to stop whatever you are doing and be still.  Listen.  God is on your side.  Then, after the grind in your heart stops, get up and call on God to use you, to give to others his love as freely as he gives it to you.

How, you ask?  How do you give out God’s type of love even to those who are lashing out against you?  How do you look at a negative and turn it into a positive?  I firmly believe it is by looking at this world through God’s eyes.  Think of how many stories in the Bible he has watched even his own faith leaders make mistakes.  Does he leave them?  No.  He may send challenges to them in order to get their attention once more.  He may send someone else to deliver a message or to do a good deed that turns that person around and heads them back to God.

Are we capable of doing God’s work?  You bet we are.  We are just as capable as any other person anywhere else on this earth.  All we have to do is “to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  We have grown up with that axiom, why is it we forget to use it.  Let’s consider some options:

  • Do we open doors for others?
  • Do we offer cool drinks on terribly hot and humid days?
  • Do we wrap up others in prayer shawls and/or blankets?
  • Do we visit friends who are in pain?
  • Do we pray for our schools?
  • Do we pray for the care providers in the nursing homes and hospitals?
  • Do we volunteer to sit with a sick friend so the primary care provider can run out and do chores or even have an afternoon off?
  • Do we recycle?
  • Do we surprise someone with a vase of cut flowers from the garden?
  • Do we walk down the street and pick up the trash?
  • Do we share the surplus from our own gardens?
  • Do we ask a neighbor what help they might need?
  • Do we team up with the other farmers to put up hay or to harvest the field before the rain comes in?
  • Do we listen to the news of another disaster somewhere on the other side of the globe and then write a check to Red Cross or UMCOR?
  • Do we ………… (fill in the blank)?

Yes we do act as God’s arms and hands.  Yes we do see the events in this world through God’s eyes.  Yes, we can deliver God’s love to one another even in the midst of the daily grind.  Maybe, as Christians, the daily grind includes our actions of love, delivering God’s grace each and every day to those who do know God’s love and to those who do not know God’s love.

Dear Loving God,

The daily grind can so easily overwhelm us that we fail to see your grace in action.  The daily grind can keep us so busy that we fail to serve one another in your name.  The daily grind may take away our energy, but it does not take away your grace.  We ask you to guide us, to show us, to prompt us in ways to share your love.  Help us to take your grace right along with us as we continue the daily grind.  Help us to demonstrate love for one another each moment of our own daily grind.  Thank you for the community of friends who share love with us.  Thank you for your grace that can transform us into your arms and feet so others may know your love, too.            –Amen

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