Nestled in the rolling hills of northern Nebraska you will find a small camp and on bright and sunny days you will see roving groups of kids swinging over the pond on a rope, or scrambling the 40 ft precipice known as Mount Ann. Eric “Gil” Kimmons serves as the director for Glad Tidings Bible Camp and he does a great job with very limited budget and staff. His wife Jamie really cares about getting young kids exposed to and engaged with the God’s word and the good news of the gospel.
With about 10 acres keeping the grounds maintained is a constant chore. Late last summer, the mower engine at Glad Tidings Bible camp went out. The shop estimate was $4,000 to fix it – a major hit in both cost and equipment unavailability. After we prayed and looked for creative solutions, God provided a new replacement engine with a 15% increase in power for $1600 less than the shop estimate. And a few weeks ago, Chester, the kids and a couple others headed out to swap out the engine and tackle a few smaller projects.
As I was working on the engine, I mulled over a few Biblical parallels loosely related to what I was doing. For me fall is a time of self-reflection, sometimes a little bit of depression. I find myself wondering the different ways others uses to take their thoughts captive, or what they might recomend to “get my motor running” so-to-speak. Almost every engine manufacturer spell out a process for starting up a new engine or one coming out of storage and likewise Self-help books attempt to do the same for people.
Since our manual is God’s Word I wanted to share a couple “lawn mower” reflections that have been helpful to me when life has gotten me down, or when I am trying to “rev up” my faith walk.
A lawn mower has a clear identity and it has all the pieces needed. As believers, we also have all of the pieces needed. At the moment of belief in Christ we not only receive the gift of eternal life but God has “given birth” or brought forth a new person (James 1:18). This new person, (me, you), has Christ living in them (Galatians 2:20) and what God has created is perfect, not missing any pieces. (1 Peter 1:23, 1 John 5:12 and 5:18). One key idea to getting up and going is confidence in the permanence and wholeness of our identity as a believer. I really love John 10:28-29 where Jesus promises security for the believer.
Powerless to run
A lawn mower does not just start itself and mow the lawn. It requires something outside of itself both to initiate and to sustain its operation. Everyone knows what the lawn mower is supposed to do, but also that it is powerless to accomplish that task on its own. This is also true in the life of a believer (though it’s a real temptation to live like we can do it by ourselves.) Paul’s argument in Romans 7:15 and following says it beautifully “I delight in the law of God in my inner man” but “what I want to do, I do not do” and “I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out”. I’m pretty sure that is the same thing the lawn mower would say. “But there is another power at war within me. This power makes me a slave”. Clearly I can’t just “get ‘er done”. In fact one of the worse parts of my own experience is that the wolf which wins is the one I do not want to win. I know I’ve thought frequently “I can’t do it, who can bring victory?”. Paul says it with real feeling. “Wretched and miserable man that I am! Who will rescue me and set me free from this body of death?”
When I fill the gas tank of the mower and give the rope a pull it is me who is providing the outside source needed to get the motor running. The one who has believed in Jesus has God’s Spirit living in him. And “if the Spirit of Him who raised up Jesus out of the dead dwells in you, He who raised up the Christ out of the dead will also quicken your dying bodies, through His Spirit dwelling in you”. Since I can not muscle it up myself only God can give me life. Another foundational principle for “getting going” is an understanding of our everyday complete dependence on the grace of God both to secure our eternity but also to help us in the here and now.
Most of us have experienced some troubles with our equipment when the motor refuses to start because there is something broken or it needs some adjustment. I am often like that motor, having something wrong that needs fixed or adjusted but refusing to respond to God guidance. When I understand my security as a believer and my only hope for living today being God’s free grace, it makes it easier to bring my brokenness to God or ask God for help.
Mr. Fix It
Imagine your mechanic only taking care of the problems that you know about and returning your equipment to you still not working right. I doubt that you would have much confidence in such a mechanic. It is great news that when I bring my issues to God He attends both to the things I know about and the stuff I don’t. 1 John 1:9 gives a picture of this process and it is something I think about almost daily.
What is the point? This reflection came from an engine. I doubt that it has anything novel or new for you, maybe it simply reinforces our foundations. I know that you can do the same, by taking the time to notice Biblical parallels in everyday life, or to note teachable moments we learn to appreciate and understand God’s word. It gives ideas on how to apply and share wisdom with others, and helps make application in our own lives. God wants us to engage His word in thought and conversation with others and of course in life application. What are the little things you can do today or techniques you can use now to motivate your thinking and speaking toward spiritually valuable things? We’d sure love to hear them. Drop us a line or a comment!