Mowing the Lawn
Updated: Mar 13
It was Saturday morning and Grandma and the girls were gone to town, and time to do a little yard work before it got too hot. But this time my grandson Nick wanted to push the lawnmower. He was barely 7 or 8 I think - a little small I thought. But he was insistent, so we pulled the lawnmower out. "Here’s where you check the oil” I explained, pulling the dip stick to show him. “And we need to make sure it’s got plenty of gas”. He nodded solemnly. “O.K.” I said as I grabbed the starter rope, “Let’s fire 'er up!” But Nick wanted to fire it up.
“OK, grab it right here, pump that primer a few times, and pull as hard as you can!” Well, he pulled. And pulled again. And again, a little harder. The lawnmower moved a little. “Here Nick”, I motioned, “I”ll get 'er for ya” and snapped the rope. The lawnmower started and I lined him up right next to the sidewalk. It was a gentle slope up the hill to the street. “Start right here and lap two wheels over the sidewalk” I pointed. He grabbed the handlebar and started to push . . and push . . “Just a second Nick. I got it!” I said, turning the lawnmower to the left to go sideways across the yard. “This will be flatter Nick. Just start right here and go over to Doug’s house, then turn around and follow it back”. He grabbed the mower and started pushing, and was doing good - but . . “Here Nick, I’ll get ‘er for ya” I said as I finished his stripe. “Now start on back and overlap the one we just did, so we don’t have any grass poofs”. With a serious look he started back toward the sidewalk and . . “Whoa!” I cried. “Just a second Nick, we can’t have these grass stripes in between our strips . .“ I took the mower from his hand. “Here, I got it!” . Nick suddenly ran for the porch, grabbed the pruning loppers and ran behind the house. I shrugged and continued mowing. Meanwhile the girls showed up and chewed me out, since I was the only man available. “Don’t you know Nick has hay fever really bad?” they yelled. Alas, a typical male, I was oblivious to Nick’s condition. Soon the girls left, and Nick and I were alone in the house. As I walked into the living room he sat on the couch, his chin quivering . . he was crying. “Nick!” I bent down, “What’s the matter? “Well”, he sniffed, “I try to start the mower - and I can’t start it . . I try to go uphill, and I can’t . I try not to leave the stripes, and . . you know!” he wailed. “I can’t even cut the briars behind the house!” Suddenly I was 5 years old, standing before my dad. I knew this was a God Moment . . “Nick”, I wept as I knelt down in front of him, “Don’t you know I don’t love you because you mow the lawn?” He sobbed. I have been telling this true story for many years everywhere I go, because the truth is we’re all Nick . . we all want to be able to prove our ability, to earn love and acceptance, to be a real man. And we all fail. It doesn’t matter if we get 99 things right, if the 100th thing fails. "If we offend in one point, we are guilty of all” James warns us. My life as a Christian is a joke. Oh, not publicly perhaps, but in the only place it matters - in secret. I didn’t used to think it was. I used to think I was really a good guy, better than most. In the mid ‘90‘s a sin that I battled occasionally as a Christian erupted with the advent of internet pornography. It was one of the worst periods of my life. Anyone who has been struggled with this sin is not laughing right now. They know. All men know. And though Jesus graciously delivered me, I was never the same. I could never look at myself as better than anyone after that. I still can’t, though I know that in Christ I am clean every whit, as white as snow, that knowledge of my impotence has never left. “Well now we know why you’re telling us this story” someone thinks, “you’re trying to cover up your sin!”. No. He has covered by sin. It is the only way our sin can be covered. What about yours? We all have sinned and fallen short of God’s perfection. It isn’t like God didn’t know we’d fail. He knows everything. We didn’t know. We didn’t know how deep this river ran. And now, nearer the end of my life, my only chance is the imputed perfect righteousness of My Redeemer credited to my account. It’s all that I have. And it’s enough.