Thursday, September 27, 2007

Grass Mowing and More

Good day to you and yours friends. Thank you for stopping by and reading this blog. If you find any value in it at all, please pass it along to someone you know. As always, this forum exists for conversation. While I really appreciate all of you who read this, I’m really looking for comments, dialogue….I want to know what your experience is. Life is, or should be – a shared journey. Look around, it’s no accident we’re surrounded by billions of other people. We weren’t intended to go through life alone, and when we take time to listen to others, the potential exists for us to learn and grow, to become better people because of time and thoughts shared with others. So, here’s what’s on my mind….

Earlier this week, I mowed my yard for the first time since my medical procedure, that would be some 3 ½ weeks ago now. Fortunately, I was blessed to have a friend send over a yard crew a couple weeks back so I wasn’t facing a complete jungle. But with edging, the hedges needing attention and the front and back yard to mow, I knew it would be quite a task – especially since I hadn’t been “released” by my doctor to resume such activity until just a couple days earlier. I am happy to report things went well, no problems. It took a little longer because I intentionally took my time so I didn’t “over do” it, but all is good – I felt fine every step of the way.

Now here’s where I might lose you, but I enjoy mowing my yard. Yes it’s work, but unlike other things in my life, I enjoy immediate results when I do it. The payoff for the effort is very clear, it’s the same reason I don’t mind ironing my own clothes, but that’s another story I guess. I suppose I’m merely a product of the society I live in – instant coffee, microwave cooking, convenience stores, etc. The western culture really caters to such a mentality. You want it…you got it.

However, I’ve found that the really important things in my life don’t exist in the parameters of this mindset. I’m talking about the relationships in my life, which I consider the most valuable things I have. There’s not one of them that I can put forth an effort into and see immediate results. Yes, my wife and children respond to kind words and acts of love and affection, and don’t forget gifts…they like gifts too! But those things don’t make a relationship, time does. And it’s over the course of time that my friends and family really come to know me. And the relationships in my life that last are the ones that after we know each other, I mean really know each other warts and all, we still care about each other. And the only way to do that is over time.

Which brings me to my most important relationship, the one above all the rest, my relationship with God. It’s been my longest and most consistent, not on my part mind you, but on His. I’ve left Him, I’ve comeback, I’ve ignored Him, I’ve acted like I never knew Him and he still loves me, period. I don’t have to jump through hoops, I don’t have to act a certain way, I don’t have to do anything, and He loves me. I wish I was as consistent.

He’s done incredible, miraculous things in my life – saving me from a drug addiction and allowing doctors to find a huge problem with my heart before it was damaged or killed me, just to name a couple. And yet, often times I find myself viewing our relationship like I do my lawn - I want to put forth the effort and see immediate results. Our relationship doesn’t work that way, and really I’m glad it doesn’t.

I don’t want a Santa Claus who I hand my wish list to, or a slot machine that I take my chances with. I want to know the heart of my Creator. I want to know who He believes I am and what I’m capable of. And I want to be able to see others around me the way He sees them as well. And that only happens over time.

Yes, I’ve known His power when my drug addiction was gone in an instant. Yes, I’ve seen His mercy when doctors said, “You are a very lucky man, most people don’t go home from this.” But it’s only over time that I discover His faithfulness to provide for me, His love that doesn’t stop when I’m an absolute jerk, and His Spirit that gives me strength and guides me when I seek Him.

I’m not here to try to convince you to believe in God, not my job. I just want to share with you my experience. More than anything, I hope you have relationships in your life that are meaningful. Because after all, the satisfaction I get from mowing grass doesn’t last that long. In fact….I think I hear it growing now!

What’s your experience?



At 8:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, that's where I'm struggling right now - the relational part. When I was young, I had a very close, daily conversation with Him. I felt His presence/strength on a regular basis. My belief that He is present is still strong. My belief that He loves me still holds true. My difficulty is hearing Him currently - as a dynamic presence. For years now I've been acting on what I understand and believe His heart is for people and I've been acting on what abilities He has given me, but I don't know about a personal word for me. I have a heart to KNOW, and find myself struggling to converse when I'm wondering about His immediate involvement. Funny thing is, when I have let go of my mental hangups, I drop right back into conversation with Him, which feels great, but I also feel an emptiness when looking/feeling for His touch and presence.


At 8:35 AM, Blogger Tom said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts Anonymous.

Seems as though you're human. simply taken as an account of history (which I believe it is certainly more) the Bible has numerous accounts of people feeling distant from God and longing for His presence.

I think your last sentence summed it up for me: "Funny thing is, when I have let go of my mental hangups, I drop right back into conversation with Him, which feels great, but I also feel an emptiness when looking/feeling for His touch and presence."

Here's my take on it: Our relationship with God is spiritual in nature. Just as our physical bodies respond to physical conditioning, i.e. - strenghtening, etc.; we must learn the art of spiritual conditioning as well. It's been my experience that my spirit responds to this in the same manner as my body to physical conditioning.

For me, that looks like quiet / alone time. Reading the Bible, praying, and listening. The last one is the really tough part because God doesn't usually do the booming voice in the clouds thing, or the burning bush with me. But if I can stop the other competing voices I deal with regularly - work, family, friends, society, etc., (which aren't bad things, they clamor for my attention) then I can focus on what God is trying tell me. Not in my ears, not in my head, but in my spirit. And I know without doubt it's Him.

That's a common struggle with lots of us isn't it? Trying to understand and know God with our minds. Honestly, if I can understand God in my brain, what use do I have for Him in my life? For me, I need Him to be so much bigger than I can ever comprehend. But in our shared humanity, I too long for more and clearer glimpses of Him.

I'll close with good news for us: the Bible says that those who seek Him will find Him. He doesn't hide from us or even make it difficult. It was Moses who told Israel (and us as well) that we would find Him if we seek Him with all our heart and all our soul. (Deuteronomy 4:29)

Not a word about our minds.


At 3:17 PM, Anonymous LInda said...

Hey Tom,

I still haven't figured out how to do whatever it is to get connected to whatever I'm supposed to be connected to, so I'll just reply directly instead.

Our youngest son and daughter-in-law are separated and planning on divorce. I vowed a long time ago that I would never treat my daughters-in-law the way my mother-in-law treated me. So I was determined to have relationships with both our son's wives.

It was no effort to love our youngest son's wife. She was charming, totally open, (we thought) and just plain wonderful. I learned quickly to love her, and I was so happy - I've always wanted a daughter. Still, we put a lot of effort in the relationship. As in any relationship, phone calls and favors asked for are not always convenient. However, it's easier to make an effort when you expect something in response. I expected efforts on her part to meld us together as a family unit.

She wept with joy as she walked down the aisle to our son. Now divorce looms before us. She's found her "soul mate." Meanwhile, our son's life is torn apart. Everything he thought was true was a lie. Our grandbaby is shuttled between Galveston and Temple because a temporary custody hearing was cancelled by our soon to be ex-daughter-in-law's attorney. The baby's two and has started biting her nails - which is a stress reaction.

What I've learned is that effort and hard work do not make a successful relationship here on earth. It took a lot for me to finally be willing to make contact with God. And just like Meryl Streep in "Out of Africa," I have learned a thing. The effort I put into building a relationship with Him turns out to be the best thing I've ever done. He's always with me; if I need guidance, I can read His word. My relationship with God has given me relationships with wonderful people I would have never known.

I love that old hymn "What a Friend We Have in Jesus...."

I enjoy your offerings to us; I'm often too lazy or goofy to reply. This one really hit home. Thanks.



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