Of Garden Tools and Grace I spent thirty two years fixing things, I have two degrees and enough certificates and credentials to cover a wall; but I’m tired of fixing things. If I never have to fix anything else in my life it will be fine with me. I guess that’s a factor in why power lawn tools burn me up. I have a very nice very large lawn tractor that I got through a very good trade that benefitted me and the person I traded with. I have a small tiller to till up the garden every year and then cultivate it every week or so. Then there is….. the trimmer. I wanted to keep this short but its necessary that I explain some things before I go further so please bear with me. The tractor, as I said is a very nice one but it goes through periods of giving me a fit every time I try to use it. At first it threw belts every time I engaged the blade, I fixed that. Then it went through a period of one blade vibrating loose due to a defective bearing, fixed that too. After that I had trouble with tires every time I wanted to use it. Then came the not starting period, that’s electrical which is in my realm of expertise and I concluded that the battery only lasts about a year. I cussed about that some, because they’re not cheap; they cost $25 every time. This is incidental and I hadn’t planned to include it but it applies to the subject of this devotional. I couldn’t afford a battery and without one the only way to start the tractor was to pull the car close enough to jump it, which was a real nuisance. I fumed, I ranted, I said some unchristian things about going through that every time and then one day we saw an old guy about three houses down the street trying to cut a whole yard, and it’s a big one, with a small trimmer. I volunteered to cut it for him, partly because I was concerned for his health, partly because I just like cutting grass on a tractor, and partly because I consider that tractor a gift from God because I could never afford one and can’t push a mower for any period of time. He was very glad for the help and went about his business, I guess he just trusted me to do it. So I cut it, all of it, and was happy to do so. Later that day there was an envelope in our mail box with a note in it from him and $25 in cash, the cost of a battery. Helen and hadn’t told him about my starting problem, he just put the money there on his own. Back to my original narrative, my small tiller although brand new has for the most part given me nothing but grief. This is the third one I’ve had, the other two being warranty exchanges because they stopped working. This one was used last year only a few times then put away until this year. I made a point of leaving the sales tags on it, the bag with the owner’s manual and bottle of oil  tied to it, and the very large store tag that was on it when it was on display. I left all of that there so I’d have it when I took it back this year and griped at them but I guess it was good luck charm because the thing ran perfectly this year up until the very last time I tried to start it. Then the pull rope just hung there, dead, not dutifully snapping back as it should. Cussing ensued. When I got this one the warranty was pro rated, meaning there wasn’t any so I couldn’t take it back. I know what you’re thinking: ‘why did you leave all those tags on it then?’ note that I am very tactfully avoiding that answer. My trimmer is either a left over plague intended for Egypt but not used because they don’t have grass there OR its one of those demonic things we see in Steven King movies and I really don’t feel the need to go into it for fear of more cussing. The other day I felt good, the weather was good, and all was right with the world so I decided to cut the old guy’s grass (He doesn’t live in the house, it belonged to his sister who died and he just stops by to cut the grass once in a while) because it needed it, then I was going to cut my mother in law’s grass then ours. At least that was the plan. For some reason unknown to me, I took the key off my ring recently, only for a few minutes, and then…… lost it. Cussing followed. Now I was burning mad, I only had me to blame (it seems that we, the human race always have to have something to place blame on but that’s a lesson for another day) and that made it even worse. I looked all over the house, searched everywhere I could imagine, no results. I was left with the only option of going over to Lowes and hoping they had a replacement. I didn’t want to spend the money as I had just that morning spent money on the trimmer from hell and still didn’t have it working, and I didn’t want to use the gas but I had no choice, so off I went. I couldn’t remember just how my key was cut, or what style it was, two strikes against be from the beginning but there was a young guy there who asked if he could help, I doubted it but told him of my plight. He showed me the keys they had, none of which looked like mine. I saw defeat looming on horizon, then he got an enlightened look and said “it might be one of other kind,” my mood improved, “but I’m sure we don’t have any of those in stock,” my mood sank, “but I might have one in my vest here somewhere.” He fumbled around and produced a key that looked like mine, but was it cut the same? I told him that was the same style as mine. He handed it to me and said “well take it and give it a try, if it doesn’t fit all I can do is order you one.” My mood was vastly improved. I thanked him and asked him how much it will cost (remember that it wasn’t packaged) to which he said “nothing, it’s yours, free. It belongs to me and I’m giving it to you.” My mood improved, my faith in young people had humanity vastly stronger than before, I left for home, hoping against hope that it would work. I got home, walked over to the tractor, stuck the key in, held my breath and twisted. It moved, the tractor started. I spent the next hour cutting grass and crying. There are several definitions of the word ‘grace’ but I have my own. Mine is: ‘deserving a curse but receiving a blessing’ and that’s exactly what I did. I had gotten mad, said and thought things that were unchristian, gotten mad at other people when the fault was mine, I had sinned. I deserved to spend a lot of money, wait a long time, and go through a lot of pain doing yard work without the right tools. But instead I got a key, I received grace. I felt like a jerk because I had acted like one; yet I also felt like a child of My King, loved and looked after. I was reminded once again in my life about grace. The young guy’s words were also a reminder because they’re the words Jesus used: “it’s yours, free. It belongs to me and I’m giving it to you.” And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me." (Luke 22:19 NIV) God will teach us SO much, if only we slow down long enough to see the lessons He puts in front of us. But we get so caught up in OUR lives and what WE want, that we just overlook the necessary. It seems that when things don’t go my way and I make an ass of myself, God is patient and uses the experience to teach me. Last year when I was having the fit with the tiller, I was in much the same mood, and I walked out of the store with a brand new tiller even though legally I wasn’t entitled to one. That’s another lesson that I call “The Value of a Nail” Prayer for me is very private, I’m not big on one person speaking for a whole group because I am convinced that our King prefers to hear our words coming from us. It’s for that reason that I don’t pray in groups unless it’s for a very good reason. I won’t try to put my words in your mouth but I think all of us should pray and ask Our Father, Our King, to give us the senses and hearts to see what lessons He puts before us and that He gives us the wisdom to understand them and apply them. Footnote: The battery incident happened before the key incident so I should have used it for this lesson.  I use the key because I can carry it around as a reminder. I guess if I was a really GOOD Christian I’d carry the thirty pound battery with me because it would raise eyebrows and people would ask me about it, thus giving me a chance to tell them about grace. Maybe I’m a lazy Christian because I choose to carry a key and a nail with me instead. But that’s for another discussion.
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