There was a man who loved to mow the lawn. He loved the smell of fresh-cut grass. He really enjoyed presiding over a well manicured estate. He took delight in the straight edges of sod running perfectly along the curves of the curb and borders of the sidewalks. Nothing pleased him more than to look out upon his work and see perfectly straight swaths of verdant lawn.
But there was one thing: He hated his lawn mower. What ought to have taken him three hours always seemed to turn into five, because his stubborn tractor always gave him fits. One day, he was mowing around a flower bed, and the front wheel completely fell off. After a trip to the hardware store and an hour of repairs, he finally finished the rest of the job, a bit miffed at the time he had lost.
The next week, the other wheel fell off. After close examination, he realized the mower’s previous owner had put the wrong size bushings on the wheel axle, and after an hour and half out back at the shop, he was able to chisel out those old bushings and install the proper size. Again, frustrated, greasy, and annoyed, he finished what was meant to be a morning project at about 2 in the afternoon.
Other weeks his lawn mower refused to start, and he had to push it up the hill to get a jump from his car. Then the blades began to wear thin and bend and mangle as they kicked up gravel or hit a tree root hidden in the yard. After sad attempts at whacking and bending the blades back into place, the man finally had to go purchase new blades. Unfortunately, during his first spin around the yard with the new equipment a tree root again did its work on the new blade.
Week after week the man lamented to his wife that he would never again sit on that tractor. He swore he would abandon that tractor and get a new one. Week after week, he went back out to the shed, cleaned up that tractor’s bumps and bruises, mended its weary parts, added air to that tire with a slow leak, and put it back to its mundane task.
One day in the heat of summer, as his mower yet again failed to do its only duty–cut grass to the same height–in exhaustion and frustration, the man cried out, “Why God! Why have you given me this blasted tractor?”
Pastors of churches, husbands of wives, fathers of children, and all of us Christians who see ourselves as the ones fixing rather than needing to be fixed–he who has ears to hear, let him hear.
p.s.–if it seems as though the events in this parable are recounted in great detail, it is because they are the true stories of a broken and sweaty lawn boy.