March 14, 2016

It’s Monday morning and for many it’s the start of Spring Break!! That time of year where parents wonder what to do with their small children and where parents of older “youth/young adults” wonder what in the world their “children” are doing. It’s supposed to be 85+ degrees here today so it’s already starting to feel like summer. Time to get outside and use that extra hour of daylight you worked so hard for over the weekend.
I finally gave in last week and decided it was time to mow my lawn. I know what most of you are saying, “Pastor, your lawn is tiny, what’s the big deal?” And you would be right except for the lifetime battle I have with lawn care equipment. Anything with a gas-powered motor immediately doesn’t like me. I gave up on gas-powered trimmers and such. I even tried an electric lawn mower but I was too cheap to buy the wireless model so umm yeah, have you ever tried mowing your grass with an extension cord following along behind you that you’re always afraid of running over? It was pretty brutal and after one season I sold it. But basically I have to buy a new mower about every 2-3 years. That seems ridiculous I admit. I have tried the least expensive model I can find (I discovered I do need self-propelled – ha) to the somewhat more expensive models. It doesn’t really seem to matter whether it’s a Honda or a Lawn Boy or a Toro or what brand it is. After one season of wonderfully glorious mowing I always have issues. I know you have to drain the old gas and put in new gas every season OK? I’m not a complete mowing idiot. I even know what the carburetor looks like though I’m not completely sure what to look for in one that is having issues. I do know about spark plugs and how to make sure they are clean and how to measure the proper gap and so on. I know about making sure the air cleaner is clean and all the little things involved in making sure a gas-powered engine runs properly. Though there was that time a couple of years ago where I was mowing along and I noticed a dark trail running along behind me. Turns out I hadn’t gotten the oil cap back on completely and I was draining oil all over my lawn plus almost ruining the engine. This one left a nice brown strip on my lawn for a while. But 2 years ago I bought a new mower on Amazon. You know how I love Amazon. It was supposed to start first time every time for 3 years guaranteed. I thought YES, this is what I need. The first year, right out of the box, boom, it started on the very first pull. It was amazingly wonderful and mowing that year was a joy. Sure enough, last year, season 2, I pulled it out. It didn’t start on the first pull. Hmmm. In fact, it didn’t start after about 50 pulls and a strained back. My hatred for mowers had returned. So I took it down to the repair shop for this model. Of course, every spring everyone else has their mower down there as well. Did I mention that I also hate standing in line at the lawnmower repair shop? But I did for about 30 minutes. After much discussion I finally convinced them it was under warranty and after a couple of weeks of high weeds and grass I got my mower back and it started, not always on the first pull, but it was OK. So this year I dreaded the annual first pull of the lawnmower cord. I put it off as long as I could. I finally got it out and drained the gas and put fresh gas in. The moment of truth. Sure enough, it didn’t start or even act like it was thinking about starting. I was immediately dreading that line and wait at the lawnmower repair shop. Jennifer came out and I was turning it this way and that showing her how I couldn’t even find the spark plug on this model – ha – and how frustrated I was. I finally sat it back down and just on a whim – with her praying – I gave it one more tug. Boom. It started with just one pull. I yelled at her to grab the handle and not to let it die as I ran back in to change shoes. I then mowed the yard, having to shut it down a few times to move things and it started right back up. As I mowed the yard my mind began to wander to spiritual implications like it probably does for most pastors. I first noticed the yard and how the weeds were thicker in areas where the grass was weaker. I immediately thought how that is like sin in our lives. Sin has a better chance to grow in us when we have down time and when we aren’t cultivating God’s word in our hearts and lives. The areas where we are weak often give Satan the opportunity to come in and grow in our lives. And then I began to think how we are often like that mower. When we are regularly in God’s word and regularly attending worship and regularly engaged in active prayer then our spiritual lives seem to run pretty smooth. But when we take a break and get away from caring for our spiritual lives then that is when problems are more likely. Now thankfully we don’t have to mow our grass all year long but when it comes to our spiritual lives it is dangerous to think we can or need to take a break. Don’t give the devil an opportunity in your life! Make sure your spiritual life is running at peak level every day of the year! Did I mention that I have my fingers crossed just thinking about starting my mower this week?
In case you have not heard, Jennifer and I are the proud grandparents to a new granddaughter, Lyla Jade Hixon, born this past Saturday morning, March 12th. She is the daughter of our oldest son Derek and his wife Ashley. She is grandchild number 5 for us and our second granddaughter. We are very excited and thankful to God for this precious new life.