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PrayerMowing PrayerMowing
    by Philip Gulley

    Eight years ago, I bought a push mower to cut the grass at my house. We have one acre of ground and cut it from late April through mid-November. If spring comes early or fall lingers, we’ll push those boundaries a bit, but for the most part, it’s an eight-month-a-year job. By the time I fill the mower with gas, mow the lawn, put string on the trimmer, and whack down all the weeds, I’ve spent two and a half hours on the lawn. If I have to trim the hedge, it’s up to three hours. In the past eight years, I’ve owned four different string trimmers and three hedge clippers. My faithful mower has soldiered on without a complaint. If mowers go to heaven, mine will trim the grass along the golden streets.

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    Jack is my neighbor. He came to visit me last fall. I was telling him about my mower, how it’s run for eight years and still starts on the first pull—-a veritable mower miracle.

    “You ought to get that thing serviced,” Jack told me. “Let them clean the carb and check the compression. it’s long overdue for a checkup.”

    He offered some more mower talk, none of which I understood. When he was finished, I had the queasy feeling my mower was pointed graveward. Jack gave me the name of the folks who work on his mower, and the next day I loaded it in the truck and drove down to their shop.

    When the lady behind the counter asked me what was wrong with the mower, I told her that I’d used it for eight years and never had it serviced. She said they’d give it a good going-over.

    Two weeks later, I got a phone call that my mower was ready. I went back to the shop to retrieve it. The lady told me they’d sharpened the blade and changed the oil and cleaned the carburetor.

    “Better than new,” she said, with confidence brimming over.

    I took it home and started it up. Black smoke belched from the muffler, and oil spewed from the air filter. The engine beat out an irregular rhythm. “Better than new...hack...cough...better than new,” it seemed to say.

    I put it in my truck and drove back to the shop. The lady was perplexed. She promised they’d make it right. “We’ll make it better than new,” she yelled after me as I walked out the door. That night at my men’s study group, I asked for intercessory prayer for my lawn mower. The next Sunday I preached on advicegiving and how it isn’t always welcome. I looked at Jack while I spoke. Guilty as sin of mower malfeasance, and there he was, smiling big and nodding his head.

I asked for intercessory prayer for my lawn mower.
    The lady called me that week to tell me my mower was fixed. I brought it home and started it up. Gasoline poured out onto the garage floor. I turned the mower off and went for a walk. Jack was cutting his grass. He shut his mower off and came over to visit.

    “That’s my mower,” he pointed out. “Seventeen years old. You take care of them, they’ll take care of you. How’s your mower running? Aren’t those people great?”

    I went back home to my mower. I sat next to it and thought of the hours we’d spent together. When my wife and I miscarried, I remembered how I’d mowed the yard three times in one week, walking off my sorrow one stripe at a time. A year later, when Joan delivered a healthy boy, I mowed the lawn the day we brought him home from the hospital. I sang and danced the entire acre.

    The fault was mine. I had abandoned my mower to people who had wrongly assumed it was just another mower. They didn’t know its healing powers. I thought about what Jack had said, how if you take care of them, they’ll take care of you. It was time I took care of my mower. There are just some things you shouldn’t hire out. I took apart the carburetor and reseated the gaskets. No more gas leak. I drained the oil and put in new, right up to the top of the fill mark. Not a drop more. I backed out the spark plug. It was black and gummy. I went to the gas station and bought a new one. While I was there, I bought premium gas for my mower. Gasoline champagne. I probed the mower’s oily recesses with a Q-tip. Then I waxed it to a gleaming shine and sharpened the blade.

    I wheeled it outside and pulled the starter cord. One time. It purred to life. “Thank you, thank you, thank you,” it called out. I mowed the yard, then pushed it into the garage and wiped it clean. Then we had a little talk, my mower and I. From now on, it’s an oil change twice a season and premium gasoline. Sharpen the blade every five acres and lubricate the cable once a year. No more strangers pawing it with their dirty hands. I’m going to take care of my mower, and it’s going to take care of me. A fine lesson. I’m glad I’ve learned it.

    Sometimes we want the best from something while giving it our worst. Couples sit in my office and lament their stale marriages, then go home and spend the night in front of the television. I want my sons to confide in me, but I expect them to do it without my showing any interest in their busy little days. We want the stream to pour forth fresh water even as we litter its banks. We want God to be with us round-the-clock, but won’t give him the time of day.

    Starting now, I’m going to pray while I mow, to see if God and I can’t forge a sweeter peace, one stripe at a time.

From the book Home Town Tales: Recollections of Peace, Love, and Joy by Philip Gulley. © 1999 by Multnomah Pub., used by permission. Also available on audio cassette!

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Related Heartlight Resources:
Mower Musings
Free to Serve
Related External Pages:
Home Town Tales

About the Author...
Philip Gulley is a Quaker pastor who ministers in Indianapolis. He is married and has two preschool sons. In addition to pastoring and writing, Gulley enjoys spending Sunday afternoons in his hometown.

Title: "PrayerMowing"
Author: Philip Gulley
Publication Date: May 4, 2000



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From the book Home Town Tales: Recollections of Peace, Love, and Joy, by Philip Gulley. © 1999 by Multnomah Pub., Used by permission.
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