Posted by: glorifyhim1 | April 12, 2010

The Well Manicured Lawn

This past weekend found my husband and I doing our first mowing of the season. It may sound strange, but this is actually a chore that I do not mind at all. I love to watch the wild, unruly grass – or weeds (as is often the case in our yard) – become a soft, smoothly mown carpet. I also love the smell of the freshly mown grass, even the wild onions that give off their pungent odor. There is just something about the sound of the mowers and the smell of the lawn that take me back to a simpler time and place. I am reminded of running barefoot through the soft, cool grass and at nighttime sitting on the side of the bathtub scrubbing my grass-stained feet. I can remember lying on my back on the carpet of green grass, staring at the clouds and guessing their shapes. I also remember searching the clumps of green for four leaf clovers, making wishes and blowing dandelions, and pinching holes in the stems of tiny daisies to make flower chains.

But I also realize that these sweet memories came at a price. My Dad mowed and raked, trimmed and pruned, and worked on our yard to make it a safe place where my sister and I could run and play. But as I have also learned, even when I enjoy doing them, these chores are still hard work — picking up sticks and branches; pushing the lawn mower back and forth, over and over in the hot sun; dodging holes and watching our for dips in the uneven areas, and being alert to any signs of yellow jackets building new homes in the ground. 

As I worked on my little area of the yard this past weekend, I thought about these things. And then, as God will do, He reminded me of how my life is a lot like my yard. Sometimes my life can bear a close resemblance to my yard before that first spring mowing. It can become overgrown with thoughts and attitudes that I tend to pamper and nurture rather than deal with and overcome. Likewise, just as my yard can become cluttered with sticks and stones, my life also can become cluttered with unnecessary things. While these things may not necessarily be bad or wrong, they can nonetheless detract me from other, more important things that God wants me to do. God also pointed out that when I neglect the overgrown and cluttered areas of my life and fail to deal with them, they can often lead to bigger problems just as the overgrown grass in my yard provides a safe haven for yellow jacket nests or other dangers.

The apostle Paul often spoke of issues such as these and the need for Christians to live responsibly. While nothing we can do can save us (salvation is through Christ alone), the lifestyle of a professing Christian has much to do with our relationship with Christ and the effect our lives has on others. In Ephesians 4:22-24 Paul urges believers to “put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” Why? Sin separates us from God and damages our relationship with Him. “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.” (Ephesians 4:30-31). When we allow our daily lives to become overgrown with things in our lives that are unholy and sinful, our communion with God is broken. We cannot continue to live in a state of disobedience and sin and have communion with God. Yet God is always faithful to forgive us when we confess our sins and seek His forgiveness (see 1 John 1:9). In Proverbs 28:13 we are told “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.”

Paul also encouraged believers to focus on the things of Christ. “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1-2). There are so many things going on in our world today that compete for our attention. In addition to sports and entertainment venues, there are social causes and special interests that plead for our involvement and attention. Our callings might be in any of these areas, but Jesus Himself taught us “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 5:33). Rather than allowing our lives to become cluttered with myriad obligations, we should first seek Christ and His direction as to those things He wants us to do. If not, we may just become sticks and stones organizers and never get on to accomplishing anything for Christ.

Finally, Paul told believers to stand fast or keep on keeping on. “Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle” (2 Thessalonians 2:15). Sometimes I can get discouraged working in my yard. No matter how hard we work or how well we mow, it is all to be done over again and again because the grass still grows, the wind still blows limbs and debris, and yellow jackets still look for that perfect place to nest. I admit that sometimes it is hard to not feel that way about life, too. Yet Paul encourages us to stay in the battle. “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Galatians 6:9). And just as a well manicured lawn provides a safe and welcoming invitation to a passerby, I pray that as I keep on keeping on my life might reveal something of Christ that will attract others to come and see.

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