May 25th – “Getting Rid Of My Rock”

I broke down today and bought a new lawnmower. After days of pulling and pulling on the rip cord trying to get the old one to start, while the dandelions slowly but surely completed their campaign of complete-lawn-domination, I caved in and purchased the cheapest one I could fine ($199 at Rona if you’re interested).

As most people know, I’m not handy, so I asked the guy at Rona if I could have the floor model as it was already put together. His look said it all, “Dude, it’s a lawnmower not the space shuttle, if you have a wrench and a brain, you can figure this out.” So he gave me a box with the parts in them, and told me it wasn’t very heavy and I should be fine lifting it into the car myself. I think I lost his respect after asking for the floor model, as it seemed like he wanted to go and hang out with cooler customers. I was glad of this, as I didn’t know if I was supposed to tip the person who carries your box to the car.

It took me a couple of hours, but I put it together, and low and behold, it works!! But this is not the reason for my blog. My blog is based on what happened next.

I proceeded to cut my grass with a new found passion and vigour, mainly because of my swelling pride at building my own lawnmower.  After chopping down a few rows of grass, I came to a very big rock that is on the side of my lawn.  This rock has been on the lawn ever since we bought the house 11 years ago. I assume it was put there for esthetic reasons, to give the lawn some contour and character. So I have always just cut around it, however frustrating it may be. Today, for some reason, I had a light bulb moment. I realized that this rock had absolutely no value to my property.  It was little more than a stumbling block for the lawnmower. So, I picked it up and moved it away. Why I had not come to this conclusion at some other point over the past 11 years, I do not know. But now I saw it for what it was, an impediment.

I tried to think about this philosophically.

How often in life do we waste time and energy maneuvering around stuff that has very little value to us? We make excuses for people, objects, or things in our life that have always been there, but seem to serve very little purpose.

Does anything or anyone who may be a rock in your life, come to mind?

I remember many years ago there was a man who started coming to the church where I was serving as the minister. He explained his presence at my church this way, “I’ve chosen to come here basically because you’re around the corner and I can walk to the church.” This gentleman was very orthodox in his beliefs, and very critical of the progressive nature of the United Church of Canada. He was old school (and by old school, I mean King James old school!) I spent hours at his home trying to appease and accommodate him. When I would write sermons I would think to myself, “____’s not going to like this.” I swerved, deeked and tip-toed around him so as not to make him upset. It was a good two years that I bent over backwards trying to convince this guy that he had a place in the United Church. Finally one day he said to me, “sorry Phil, I’m going to a more evangelical church in another town.”

With respect, this man was a rock in my lawn, but I didn’t figure that out. I wish I had seen this long ago, and spent my time ministering to those who truly loved the church and wanted to find a place to call home.

As Christians we are called to a life of love, compassion and understanding. But that doesn’t mean being a doormat. For we are also called to articulate in a loud and clear voice the gospel message. Some will like what we have to say, and some won’t.  That’s life. But we share it anyway.  As Jesus said, sometimes the seeds of that message will fall on good ground and sometimes on rocks. Perhaps Jesus is telling us that when our best efforts in life fall on rocks, we need to recognize that and have the courage to move on, for the good of the rest of the lawn.

That’s my story. What’s yours? Take a wander around the lawn that is your life. Do you notice the impediments, or the stumbling blocks? Could it be time to put them where they need to be?