Faith and the Art of Lawn Mower Maintenance

I hope there are no lawn mowers in heaven, and that has nothing to do with work or mowing the lawn. Though I'll admit, there was a time when I hated doing any sort of yard work, as I've gotten older, it's become less of a chore and more of a joy. There's something simply and mundane about the labor that doesn't require me to think about anything, and I like that. I just put on my headphones, turn up the music, and follow the mower back and forth across the lawn as the self-propelled machine chops away at the tiny blades of grass. Honestly, it's quite blissful, not simply because I don't have to think about anything, but also because I feel as though I've accomplished something when I'm done, not to mention that I've beautified the world in my own small way. It's quite relaxing, when it goes well, though lately, it hasn't.

For a good portion of the summer, my mower has been acting up and causing all sorts of problems for me. Fortunately I've been able to fix them all thus far, but I'm not happy that I've had to do so. Sure, I'm glad I didn't have to spend money on a repair service, but still, having the mower break down totally undermined the aspect of mowing I most enjoyed, not thinking. Every time it stopped working, I had to think, and that made the activity far less enjoyable for me.

To make matters worse, it's likely my own fault. In an effort to keep thinking to a minimum during lawn mowing, I've not done a very good job keeping up with maintenance on the mower. Beyond a new spark plug and air filter every year, I confess, I haven't done much, if anything at all. I know that's totally inexcusable, but at the time, it seemed so unimportant. Besides that, as long as the mower was working and I didn't have to think about it, I could continue to get a little blissful tranquility for a least a couple hours each week, and I was ok with that. 

Unfortunately, today, that bliss came to an abrupt and final end (at least for this summer), as did the life of my mower. After two short passes across the front yard, my unwillingness to think about the maintenance finally caught up with me. Oh sure, I can go out and get a new mower, but that requires me to spend a lot of money I'd rather not spend, and don't really have. What's more, it requires me to think, not just about what mower to buy, but also about whether I'll continue to make the same mistake again. Though I'm pretty certain that I won't, when the time comes to drain the gasoline for the winter or change the oil, I'll still pause to think about it. 

Of course, the two or three of you who are reading this probably think I'm crazy for being that way, but you shouldn't; for the fact is, we all do it at times. That is to say, we all stop thinking about things that we find tiresome or difficult, which leads us to neglect the maintenance. Some people do it with their cars, some do it with relationships, some do it with their health, and others do it with their faith. 

That may sound rather strange, but it's true. Over the years I've met a lot of people who treat their faith the same way I treat my lawn mowers. In an attempt to achieve a certain experience or attain a specific feeling, they stop thinking thinking about whether or not that should be the goal in the first place, and do whatever the must to find it. When they don't, they give up and neglect their faith all together. 

Some stop going to church because they "don't get anything out of it," some stop praying because they believe "it doesn't make any difference." Some stop studying God's word because they "don't like the way it makes them feel," but ultimately, all of them stop engaging their faith because they're seeking the wrong thing from it. They're seeking an emotion or a feeling, just as I was with my lawn, though in either case, that's not what it's about.

Mowing the law is about cutting grass. It's not about having a moment alone, when no one bothers you and you don't have to think about anything other than following the mower. It's simply about getting the grass cut. Of course, it's perfectly acceptable to enjoy mowing (if that's your thing), and occasionally to have moments where thinking is almost totally unnecessary. However, if that's your ultimate goal, you may get what you want for a time, but eventually it will cost you.

If, however, you learn to accept what mowing is truly about (which requires one to occasionally think about maintenance), then you might actually get what you want and more. You just have to be willing to think a bit, and do the maintenance.

The same is true when it comes to faith. While following Christ is not about feeling a certain way or attaining some specific emotion, engaging our faith and investing ourselves into "doing the maintenance" by actively participating in the life of his body, will be well worth our while.