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Little by Little

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

Well, in my case this was very literally true. It all started when I purchased a new lawnmower. You know that you have truly arrived as a fully fledged adult man when you purchase your second lawnmower. Our first one was the cheapest model that I could find in the Argos catalogue & I think had markedly less power than my wife's hair dryer. It was fine for the postage stamp sized area of lawn in our first house but the massive garden we now have caused it to choke and die within a matter of weeks.

The new mower was more powerful and even had a throttle & variable cut height (I know!). As it turned out; this was the cause of my undoing.

You see, I am a somewhat lazy & procrastinating person where garden maintenance is concerned. I know that many of you are keen horticulturalists who like nothing more than to be knee deep in Begonias but I really cannot be bothered with it all. On arriving at our current house, I pretty much pulled out any plant which required any degree of care & just went with 'plain lawn'. But it still requires cutting in the warmer months & so I came up with a brilliant strategy to prevent my needing to cut it too often.

By adjusting the cut height to the lowest possible setting (maybe 2cm), I could 'buzz cut' the whole lawn & it would then take weeks for it to grow back to the point that any further manicuring was required. Perfect! I congratulated myself for 'winning at life' & went back to more interesting pursuits. Secure in the knowledge that nothing could ever mess up the perfect system that I had created.

And then it got hot. I mean, really really hot for weeks & weeks. The best summer that I can remember for a long time. Fantastic, & this was pre COVID so we could all go out & enjoy ourselves. There was only one minor drawback. My lawn was cut so short that the hard sunlight completely blasted anything green to death in a matter of weeks. No matter how I tried to water it, the suns relentless hammer pounded it dry. Rather than being a green & verdant carpet, my lawn began to resemble a barren & featureless wasteland broken up only by the occasional cat turd.

I could write a whole other blog concerning the enormous cat population in our neighbourhood. In the event of terrible Brexit meaning that foodstuffs cannot be delivered to supermarkets; I could probably feed my family for some weeks just by hunting the local feline population & they all seem to use our garden as their litter box of choice.

In any case, the shame of my 'Fallout 76' styled lawn prevented me from inviting visitors for barbeques that summer & to add insult to injury, my neighbour's lawn was a verdant and lush paradise. This due to the fact that he had paid greenthumb to come and execute a campaign of chemical warfare against his weeds. The worms in my neighbour's garden were hench and roided up and the local cats clearly felt afraid of them & were more comfortable crapping in my arid dustbowl of a garden. About the only thing that was growing apart from weeds was brambles. Enormous, alien like tentacles were probing out from every brambly corner of the garden. The childrens' bikes had long ago been snared and assimilated into the impenetrable 'Borg' of the blackberry bushes as they pursued their remorseless agenda of total domination over the garden.

I felt completely at a loss as to how to turn this situation around. I couldn't afford green thumb & I had neither the time nor the energy to spend days and days meticulously re-turfing the lawn and hiring a vicious dog to guard the perimeter against cats. In the end, I was praying about it (having failed to have the faith required to command the desert to bring forth plants & bud...believe me I tried).

Holy Spirit encouraged me to stop being discouraged by what I was unable to do & to just do what little I could. So I made a start. A pathetically small start. Pulling out two or three weeds a week and planting new grass seed in their place. The new seed would eventually sprout & grow, like patchy follicle replacement on a man having a midlife crisis. I also started to cut three tiny bits of bramble off of the Borg every morning & sacrifice them in the flames of my burner. HA! 'I'm coming for you next bramble' I would say as I tore my pyjamas & dressing gown free of it's thorny clutches.

The results were underwhelming. Particularly because; when I looked out at my neighbour's garden it looked amazing. But over the weeks & months there was a gradual but perceptible improvement. The bramble Borg eventually relinquished control of the childrens' bikes and the local cats responded to my loudly hurled insults and placed my address firmly on their 'avoid' list.

Finally the lawn began to come back to green life & I could tentatively begin to mow it once more. This time with the cut adjustment set as high as it would possibly go so as not to terrify the new grass too much. I trained my son to mow the lawn and (once he had severed the power cable by mowing over it a couple of times) he became quite proficient & was able to earn some money into the bargain.

It took a long time. A lot of very small steps but one day my wife was looking out of the window and commented that our garden now looks as good as my neighbour's (& I haven't had to spend a lot of money for the privilege).

Holy Spirit started to use this to speak to me about my life & my walk with him.

Sometimes the idea of what God wants us to achieve or accomplish appears completely overwhelming. ''You want me to invade what impossible land?'', ''You want me to engage THOSE giants over there?'' But God never intended us to do everything all at once. He even said to Israel that he would give the land to them a little at a time so that they did not get overwhelmed by wild animals in the process (Exodus 23:29). He gives is a few talents to invest (proportional to our faith) & lets us get on with it. Not expecting us to work a ten talent gift with five talent faith.

Sometimes our journey with God is not about those big decisions, those big 'alter call' moments or the blinding flash of light on the road that causes us to fall off our donkey & turn our life in a completely new direction.

More often (& less excitingly), our walk with Jesus is about lots & lots of very small decisions. Hundreds of tiny yes' to Gods whispered question that no one apart from you & God really notice. If this carries on for long enough; this lifestyle of saying yes over & over again becomes habit forming until the word 'no' drops out of our vocabulary altogether. For small things anyway.

This is how you end up in deep water with Jesus. One tiny yes at a time consistently over years & years. You may not feel that you can go up the huge mountain but God never asks you to do that all at once. Eventually you will 'tiny yes' your way quite a long way up without even realising it.

And when you look out over the landscape of your life, you will see that it has become lush & verdant. The cat poo has gone & the bramble Borg has been cut back to fruitfulness.

God works on the 'little by little' principle.

So choose to give him your tiny 'yes' today in whatever he prompts you. If you can't think of anything then go back to the last thing He asked & do that. He's not going to give you faith for tomorrow until you have used what's in your hand for today.

Plant seed, dig out the weeds, cut back the things that entangle you, water & feed the things that are good in your life.

Oh, & don't set the variable height too low on your spiritual mower!

God bless you my friends.


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