The Languishing Lawnmower and the State of My Soul
By Laura J. Bagby
CBN.com Sr. Producer
On a weeknight recently, I had determined to cut the grass. My roommate had asked me to do the outdoor duty since she had recently gotten stitches in her foot and couldn’t wear tennis shoes. Ready to whip the lawn into shape, I grabbed the old mower. After the third violent pull on the starter cord, the mower sputtered to life and started eating grass.
The machine didn’t have that consistent roaring hum that a mower should have. It made more of a syncopated whirring whimper – RRRUuurrrrr…RRRRUUuurrr. Frankly, it sounded awful. The timing was off and I was anticipating sudden death syndrome. Despite the warning signs, I proceeded to forcefully push the mower around the yard, avoiding the inquisitive stares from neighbors and passersby who recognized the sound of an obviously dying machine. It was embarrassing, but the grass simply had to be cut.
Before long, the lush and damp grass clogged up the blades to the point that the motor stopped completely. I still had the back lawn to do, so I wasn’t giving up without a fight. I jogged the mower to a flat spot in the yard, ripped the cord several times, and “Lazarus” came back from the dead. I was overjoyed that I hadn’t been beaten by the lawn beast.
I forced myself to move more slowly over the thicker sections of the lawn so that the mower wouldn’t choke up again. But my good intentions met with disappointment a couple of minutes later when the mower shut down a second time. Come on! Come on! I yelled, hoping to will the machine to action. It must have heard my determined plea, because it jumped to life again. Yes! I marveled with glee.
I had nearly completed the yard and I was feeling very proud of myself as a strong and independent lady when the mower breathed its final breath of the evening. I had probably a yard of grass measuring a couple of feet deep to finish. I was so close to completing my mission. I drove the mower to a flat place on the concrete out front and proceeded to pull the cord. After about three unsuccessful attempts, I waited five minutes, found a different level area out front, and tried again. I am sure the neighbors were wondering why the single lady across the way was weaving a mower around her yard to every available flat spot in some inexplicable frenzy, but I simply wasn’t going to give up now.
Eventually, I figured I had probably flooded the engine, so I grabbed a bottle of water and guzzled it down while I was waiting. I hadn’t realized the sweltering heat until I was forced to stop. I was sweating a lot more than I had realized and my legs felt wobbly from lack of hydration. To alleviate my weakness, I downed a second bottle of water, went back to the machine, and literally pleaded with it. Only a little bit more. You can do it. Please, please just work with me here. But no amount of might or cajoling would lull the mower out of its deep sleep. Exhausted and now nearly 20 minutes later, I pushed the mower back into the garage, saddened that my outdoor duty never got completed.
You know what’s even worse than not completing grass duty? I think it’s the realization that my spiritual life can be a lot like that mowing incident. I can see at least three parallels between this illustration and my walk with the Lord. And it’s a spiritual progression.
When life gets really busy, like it has been lately, especially when it’s the fun and distracting kind of busy, it’s easy for me to ignore my spiritual maintenance. I attempt to go on yesterday’s manna, instead of sitting at the feet of Jesus each new day to get filled up with His daily energy supply – that consistent hum of His motor running inside of me. Sometimes I am really sputtering through my daily activities and the whir of my frustrations and complaining can be heard clearly by those around me who are offended by my lack of sensitivity. What’s worse is that though I am misfiring, I don’t hear it. I don’t always realize that I am wheezing, even when it is obvious to others and to God.
If the problem goes unrecognized, I can easily rush into the lush grass of my circumstances and feel so overwhelmed by the tall grasses of my daily life that I literally choke on my own burdens. My spirit is clogged. At this point, I need to turn over my cares to the Lord. I need to rely on His strength instead of my own.
If I am still in that self-righteous, I-can-beat-this mode and I don’t want to give up control, death is inevitable. When I am not daily walking in obedience to the Lord, feeding off of His life-giving Word, I tend to run around my sphere of influence, hoping to start a dead motor. Not only do I look ridiculous, but I needlessly spend a great deal of energy. In the end, my own willpower accomplishes little. Left to my own devices, I am completely exhausted and defeated. Eventually, I must recognize that I don’t have it in me to fix my own problems. I need to turn my life over to God. I must realize that when it comes to accomplishing God’s will, it has nothing to do with my might and everything to do with His Spirit.
Where are you today in your spiritual life? Are you humming along, consistently chomping through the weeds of your world with the motor of Jesus blazing your trail? Or are you choking on your circumstances and hoping that you can push through to the other side all on your own? I know which scenario I prefer. I hope at this point that you do, too.
Let’s determine, brothers and sisters in Christ, to maintain our spiritual vigor, completely reliant on God’s power to cut through the tough grasses of our daily lives. Get into His Word and into the flow of praying to Him every moment of the day. And watch Him roar.
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