Saturday was a typical 90-degree summer day in the South, which meant the heat was accompanied by extreme humidity, so simply walking outside felt like I had been bathed in honey. And I had to mow the lawn… again. Ugh!
Cutting grass is a task I do not particularly enjoy. In fact, I could honestly say I’d rather get a series of rabies shots than have to plow back and forth across the yard for two hours in a miserable sauna, just to repeat the same laborious chore again the next weekend. I try to keep myself motivated by hoping I’ll shed a few pounds in the process, but I usually just grumble.
As I began to push my way up a hill on yet another thick, sweltering day, I began to complain, “Lord, please help me. I’m hot. I’m itchy. I’m trying to rejoice and be thankful in all things but quite honestly I hate this.”
Then, BOOM! The Holy Spirit blindsided me with a very vivid flashback. In my mind I was suddenly transported back to a moment twenty years ago in my life. There I was—24 years old and 6 months pregnant—on a similar hot summer day, as I tried to figure out how to mow my overgrown lawn.
At that time I lived in a tiny, run-down shack of a house. I was not married. I was a rebellious wild child whose life had completely spiraled out of control. God was pursuing me, my parents were praying for me, and I was in the process of breaking, but I had not quite surrendered yet, because I fought to remain self-sufficient.
My empty shell of a home had no refrigerator, no stove, no air-conditioning, and certainly no cable TV. I was made even poorer by the fact my doctor had instructed me not to continue my job cleaning hotel rooms or I would jeopardize the baby. I was alone, totally broke, and scared to death. God wanted my attention but I was strong-willed to boot.
As I stood alone in my yard, looking over my pregnant belly into the thick weeds that surrounded my legs, an angry man approached me. In a firm and condescending tone he said my neighbors were all complaining about my knee-high jungle and if I didn’t mow immediately I would be fined and my landlord would be notified and I’d be asked to move out.
So then I had a real problem. I had no lawnmower, no money to hire someone to help, and I was very pregnant. So, I began a sheepish appeal to God under my breath and said, “Lord, if you really do care about me, then I could use your help.”
Next thing I knew a friend drove up to my house and said, “I happened to see this cheap lawnmower at a garage sale today and I thought you could use it…Happy Birthday.” I’m sure they were embarrassed to visit in my forest of weeds so they left the lawnmower and went on their way.
I said to myself, “Wow! That was an amazing coincidence!” Then I felt prompted to change my response. “Okay, maybe it was a miracle. Thank you, God, that I have a lawnmower now. But how am I supposed to take care of this overgrown brush in my condition? I can’t risk harming my child…now what?” Well, I had no other options so I convinced myself to tackle the chore by taking it real slow and stopping for breaks between each pass across the yard so I didn’t overdo it.
Once I started up the mower and set out to accomplish the daunting task, I immediately realized the job would have been more successfully tackled with a machete. It was far more difficult than I could handle. I was overwhelmed. I felt like a complete idiot. I was humiliated. I had no idea how I was going to build a future for my son. I had lived such a reckless life that I didn’t even have someone to call for help, except God.
I relented, “Okay God. I get it. I can’t do this by myself. I need you.” Then out of nowhere a young boy about 12 years old walked up to me and said, “Ma’am, I’d like to finish mowing your lawn for you.”
For the first time in my life I became aware that God had His big, loving arms around me, despite my trying to run away from Him. Tears filled my eyes and I felt embarrassed at my arrogance for believing I was the one who was in control. I felt cared for and grateful for His provision.
Then, BOOM! All of a sudden my flashback ended and I was back in today’s reality. I had been so caught up in the memory that I wasn’t aware of the time I had spent mowing. So I began to praise God. First I thanked Him for reminding me of His faithfulness and provision in my life over the last 20 years. I have a very nice home now with a well-manicured lawn and my son and I are both healthy. I also thanked Him for never giving up on me, and for relentlessly pursuing me. Then I laughed out loud and thanked Him for helping the day’s chore go by so quickly and effortlessly while He kept me distracted.
God likes showing up and showing off for us. We just need to surrender our lives to Him because He is truly in control of all things.
Matthew 6:26 – Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?