I’ve noticed that the more I use our new riding lawn mower, the more comfortable and familiar I am becoming to the ins and outs of its operation. I will admit that I was a little nervous the first time I took it out to mow the front lawn. I just knew that all the neighbors would be pulling out their binoculars to watch the “City Slicker” mow his country lawn… kinda like the old TV hit “Green Acres!”
Unbeknownst to them, I was actually fairly knowledgeable about riding mowers as I had sold them for three years in the Garden Department when I worked at The Home Depot. I had also driven them on numerous occasions as we moved them back and forth from the front apron of the store each morning and evening… But, even though I had a part-time lawn care business for years, I had never mowed a lawn with one. All the accounts I had were for residential homes where using a riding mower would be impractical.
So, the first few times I mowed took a lot longer than when I mowed them last week. I found that I had to use much more concentration around the corners of the yard and garden while I figured out how to reverse the machine, turn the blades control on and off and raising and lowering the deck. The mower has many safety overrides built in so that some of the procedures take multiple steps pulling and releasing different levers and pushing various buttons so as to prevent the engine from turning off.
Let’s just say that there were more than a few times when I could feel my face turning red when I got stuck in a corner and wasn’t real sure what to do. Since you’re dealing with a good amount of power, you also have to be aware that a wrong move could end up with you inadvertently plowing into and knocking down a fence, tree or play structure!
The last time I mowed the back though, I was beginning to feel like a pro as I found myself responding to the different controls without much forethought… It seems the operation of the mower is finally becoming like second nature to me.
That same kind of thinking has been coming to my mind as I have been studying the book of Philippians. The scriptures around chapter four verse 13 where Paul declares that he “can do everything through Christ who strengthens me” directs us to a Christian lifestyle that should characterize our daily routines. Paul seems to be pointing out that the Christian can live life with a mind that is securely founded on the resources of heaven enough so, that they are independent of situations and circumstances as well as going far beyond their own individual resources, talents, abilities or income.
The author of my commentary wrote that as Christians, we have all the power we need within us to be adequate for the demands of life, and that we only need to release this power through faith. I think that is where my analogy of the riding mower comes into play. As with my experiences with the mower, the usage of my faith has also needed lots of practice so that my reactions to life’s dramas come as second nature to me.
I am beginning to think that this may be one of the reasons that some folks have responded the way they have toward us in our journey of faith with my wife’s health. I was counting off all the major changes that Piper and I have weathered over the 45+ years of our relationship together and was a bit amazed at just how many there were! Each of those experiences were opportunities which we attempted to conquer through our faith in God and His Word. Most times we were successful but sometimes our results were less than stellar!
But each of those events were practice for the next one, and each time it got a little easier or… a little more second nature to us to respond with stronger faith and expectation than the time before. I have heard the question asked if we are thermometers or thermostats. Are we of those who simply go up and down with the temperature and only reflect what is going on around us, or are we like a thermostat that controls the environment where we are?
I believe that Paul is telling us that with Christ inside, we can be thermostats that control the ups and downs of what life throws at us! It just takes a continual communion with the Father with lots of practice letting go of our limited resources and yielding our lives and our situations to Him and His abounding, ever-increasing and many times miraculous resources.
So go out there and have a great weekend! See yourself as the victor and not the victim of your circumstances, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “Whose resources am I expecting to be second nature to me today?”