About a week ago I decided to mow my lawn. The grass was getting extremely high and it was a nice(if not hot) day to mow. After rain off and on it NEEDED done. I started on the edge of our front lawn as I usually do and began doing a couple of circles to start off. One round down. Two rounds down. Three rounds… and a STING, then two and three. And I aborted mission!
I didn’t know where the bees came from, but our neighbor was working outside as well and we thought maybe he had knocked down a nest or something. Either way, my swelling leg and wrist called it a day.
A few days later and our lawn looked like a sad excuse for a fade… or something of the like. The outside edge was mowed, but the middle was slowly beginning to look like a jungle. I decided I would try again. I began at the same place as usual – mowing circles around the edge of the front yard. This time, I erred on the side of caution and deliberately watched the ground in front of me as I mowed. As I made my third round again, and began cutting the untamed grass I saw them. Yellow-jackets. Emerging from their evil lair deep within the ground.
I know that’s dramatic, but that’s how it felt as I, again, abandoned ship, and swam to safety. Not again, my friends. I valued my one normal-sized leg and fully mobile left wrist.
This may seem like a long story to tell, but I couldn’t help but think of Mark’s analogy a few months back of how to mow a lawn. His analogy went something like this: to get a professional looking lawn, you have to keep your eyes ahead, rather than on the grass right in front of you. In the same way, we need to remain kingdom focused if we want to live the life we were called to live.
I couldn’t help but think that the first time I had mowed my lawn, I was making my best effort to keep my eyes ahead, wanting to get a professional looking lawn, while during my second attempt I kept my eyes on the ground in front of me.
Obviously, when I kept my eyes straight ahead I wasn’t able to see the yellow jackets beneath my feet and got stung, but when I kept my eyes to the ground I wasn’t getting the professional looking lawn that I wanted. It seemed like a catch 22.
I’ve been pondering Mark’s analogy for a while now in light of my yellow-jacket experience. Surely there’s some exception to the rule. We should be cautious of those who might cause us harm, right? Shouldn’t we be looking out for snares around us? Things that may trip us up or cause us to stumble?
I wanted to back my theories up with scripture, so here is what I came up with:
“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise” Ephesians 5:15
“Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.” Proverbs 4:26
“Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not disregard it.” Proverbs 8:33
“My steps have held to your paths; my feet have not stumbled.” Psalm 17:5
“Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” James 5:10-11
What I found during my searching wasn’t exactly what I was looking for. There are plenty of times where we are told to “be careful” and to “be wise”. But more importantly we are told to hold our feet to God’s paths and be steadfast in all of our ways. We are told to listen to instruction and persevere. We are told that “The LORD is full of compassion and mercy”.
Maybe I wanted to find an excuse or a loophole for why I shouldn’t have to remain kingdom minded and kingdom focused, but that’s not what the bible tells us. There isn’t a loophole. Instead we are told to keep our eyes on the Lord. We are told to persevere through the trials because there WILL be trials and they WILL be painful. But we are NEVER told to give up.
“My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only he will release my feet from the snare.” Psalm 25:15
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7
We will walk into snares, or yellow-jacket nests, but when we keep our eyes focused heavenward, God will release our feet. God knows what lies ahead for us and allows us to go through trials and tribulations, even though they are painful. Our job is to submit to God, persevere through the challenges, and come out in victory. We are to run the race as if to win. And when all else fails, read James 5:13.
“Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise .” James 5:13
God never intended to keep us away from the Yellow-jackets, but He does provide relief. So Mow your lawn and keep your eyes ahead. Yes, there may be yellow-jackets, and yes, you may hit a rock. You might have to pause to clean the wet grass from your mower, but at least you will be focused on the mail goal. Don’t worry about the trials, persevere. Do a good job at mowing the lawn you have been given. And last, but not least…
“Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!” Psalm 31:24