Earlier this summer, I offered to help my husband mow the yard and weed/de-grass the flowerbeds. I hate yardwork! But, I try to be a kind wife and, y’all, he was thrilled to have a “project buddy”! I like to think of it as the way I would feel if I walked in from a day of running errands and all the little woodland creatures from Snow White had snuck in and cooked me dinner and cleaned my entire house. (A daydream I often indulge…) In fact, let’s just take a little moment to prop up our feet here in this lovely area of someone else’s (clean, quiet, and well decorated) house… ahhhhhhhhhh. This is the stuff of my dreams.
Anyway, back to the yard work. I told Brian I would be happy to mow the front yard while he finished edging and whatnot in the back. So, off I went to the front. Y’all I have been mowing with a push mower for a long time. I’m talking at least since I was 11 or so. My parents didn’t own a riding mower until all the kids had moved out. We were the yard crew. (Not a very good one. Nor happy. But, ya know, childhood is survivable.) I know how to start the mower by myself. It’s not a complicated chore. One mower is pretty much like another… Or so one would think.
By about 1/4 of the way through mowing the front yard, I started thinking that I have gotten pretty out of shape. By halfway through, I thought I might die. I was exhausted and had been giving all my strength to mowing. You should know, I am not in great shape. But, also, the grass was still wet from all the rain that week. Most of the yard was several days/inches overgrown from mowing being delayed by the aforementioned rain. There were extenuating circumstances.. But this was ridiculous! Hadn’t Brian bought one of those fancy self-propelled mowers? How in the world could I be so weak and out of shape I can’t even push a self-propelled mower?!?
By this point, Brian had finished and walked around to the front porch. He asked if I wanted him to take over. Y’all, mark it down in the book of Things to Know, when a man asks if you want him to take over a chore… SAY YES! I, being unhealthily stubborn, did not accept this offer. I told him I had to finish at this point and he could just take a rest in the shade of the porch. (I need to institute a new trophy: Gold Star Award for Wives. I also hereby nominate myself. 🙂 He he he…) He smiled and said ok. Then went and sat down. I saw what I perceived as a smile of loving gratitude on his face each time I passed him. I finished all of that mowing! As I passed the mower off to him, I commented on how weak I have become. He smirked and started it up…. then pulled the handle to engage the drive train. I had mowed the entire yard thinking I was ridiculously weak without utilizing the help sitting right there at my fingertips!!!
Sometimes, as I walk through life, I wonder what help I am missing. I know my strength comes from the Lord, by way of the Spirit, and prayer. But, when I have prayed the same prayer for the 5 millionth time, I can’t help but think: “Is there a lever I should be pulling?” I recently came across a quote from Keep in Step with the Spirit by J.I. Packer.
First, as one who wants to do all the good you can, you observe what tasks, opportunities, and responsibilities face you. Second, you pray for help in these, acknowledging that without Christ you can do nothing—nothing fruitful, that is (John 15:5). Third, you go to work with a good will and a high heart, expecting to be helped as you asked to be. Fourth, you thank God for help given, ask pardon for your own failures en route, and request more help for the next task. Augustinian holiness is hard working holiness, based on endless repetitions of this sequence.
What a great reminder!! See, sometimes I approach my prayer time as a to-do list download. I tell God everything on my list and then thank Him for Jesus. But, I forget to ask for His help or acknowledge that I can’t do it on my own. I go about being busy, but not with goodwill expecting God to help me accomplish anything. I get busy–really busy. But not with a holy busyness. I just embrace the “pull myself up by my bootstrap” mentality and stubbornly push through my struggles.
It is because of the hasty and superficial conversation with God that the sense of sin is so weak and that no motives have power to help you to hate and flee from sin as you should. ~ A.W. Tozer
Just like mowing without engaging the drivetrain gave me the impression I was much weaker than I was, praying without engaging God’s will and strength gives us the impression that we are spiritually weaker than we really are.
But, y’all, LISTEN to Isaiah 40:28-31.
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
We don’t have to fight in this world and its brokenness alone, y’all!!
How awesome is that thought?!? He wants us to seek Him in prayer. So, what are you waiting for?? Call on Him!
If I shut the sky so there is no rain, or if I command the grasshopper to consume the land, or if I send pestilence on my people, and my people, who bear my name, humble themselves, pray and seek my face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land. 2 Chron. 7:13-14
I love you, Lord, my strength. Psalm 18:1
What do you try to muscle through on your own strength? Patience with your kids? Joy in your workplace? Love for others that doesn’t fizzle or come with teeth grinding? More hours in the day? Release from fear?