“Back to the grind” is a transitional phrase bridging a brief or extended period of relaxation to the resumption of laborious or repetitive activity. Numerous studies have shown that taking breaks increases focus and productivity. Yet, experience teaches us that it can be difficult to get moving again after a period of rest. The mind must be convinced, or the body will not follow. This is why Monday is seldom our favorite day of the week and why it is so challenging to get back into the swing of things after a vacation.
Getting back into the grind is likely an expression that takes us back to simpler times when people used millstones to grind their grain into flour. So important were these to the livelihood of the people that it was forbidden in the Law of Moses to take someone’s hand mill or upper millstone as a pledge for repayment of a debt owed (Deut. 24:6).
Jesus says, “the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah” (Matt. 24:37). There will be no tell-tale signs marking its approach. Just as usual, people will be “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage” (vs. 38). Men will be working in the field and women will be grinding at the mill (Matt. 24:40-41). Milling grain was so much a part of everyday life that Jesus likened it to the conditions which existed “in the days of Noah” before the Flood came upon the world of the ungodly.
It is difficult for us to imagine life in the first century. This writer remembers hearing lengthy conversations of previous generations as they hearkened back to “the good ol’ days” when baking bread in the home was replaced by sliced bread at the store. Although our grandparents may have baked bread in the home, they did not have to mill the flour from which such bread was made. Theirs was a simpler time — but not an easy life. In an age of smart phones and gadgets, we lose appreciation for the basic necessities of life. In teaching us to pray, Jesus says, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matt. 6:11). His provision is promised to those who “seek first His kingdom” (Matt. 6:33), but our minds and hearts have become so distracted as to give temporal things and events far greater importance in our lives than those things which carry eternal significance. We have crowded out basic spiritual essentials. We hardly think about daily bread, much less appreciate its relationship to God’s blessing and our work to put it on the table. We are too far-removed from the grind and, sadly, that is to our great disadvantage.
- Glen Elliott Greenbrier church of Christ, Greenbrier, AR