There I stood. Pinned between the mower and fence. A little stunned and a whole lot taken by surprise. What just happened?
I’ve mowed that hill a hundred times so I didn’t think a thing about it as I was maneuvering our new (bigger) walk behind mower…the kind you squeeze one handle to lower the blade and the other to put it into gear. It took a bit to get used to at first and on occasion I wasn’t sure who was controlling whom but I had gotten pretty comfortable with it.
Therein lies the problem.
As I was hunkering down to come up the hill, my sweaty hand slipped off the handle just enough to send the mower into neutral. Neutral+hill=bad news. Suddenly I was wanning (not quite walking but not quite running) backwards down the hill and quick as that, I was pinned against the fence.
After the initial shock, I felt panic set in. My man was on the other side of our three acre lot mowing so there was no way he would hear me yell for him. Then it dawned on me, squeeze the handle. It was that simple.
Handle squeezed, gear engaged, I was no longer trapped.
God is no stranger to using parables as teaching tools. So what life lessons did I learn from this mowing mayhem?
1. Don’t get too full of yourself.
The moment I got comfortable, I got complacent. I stopped paying close attention to what I was doing and didn’t respect the power of the machine I was driving.
Sometimes in life, we think we’ve got a handle on things and let down our guard.
Maybe we got trapped doing a particular thing so we are uber careful to not let ourselves get trapped like that again. We pay so much attention there that we’re not looking here.
Or maybe we see someone we know doing stuff they shouldn’t be doing and we think to ourselves, I would never…
Those are dangerous hills to climb.
Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18 NIV)
2. It can happen fast.
All it took was a simple slip of a sweaty hand off the handle and seconds later, I was wondering how I had gotten where I was.
Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1Peter 5:8 NIV)
Interestingly enough a lion roars after it has caught its prey. Before the roar he watches and waits. Ready to pounce. Just like that.
That poor unsuspecting gazelle was enjoying her morning breakfast, not paying attention and suddenly she’s being served up on a platter as Leo’s lunch.
Peter tells us in this same chapter how to avoid the trap of the enemy…
~ Humble yourselves (v6) (see previous notes on not getting full of ourselves)
~ Be self-controlled (v8) (worry about yourself…not what others are or are not doing)
~ Be alert (8) (pay attention to your surroundings, using all your senses)
~ Resist the devil (v9) (walk, run or cartwheel out of there but do what you must to resist!)
Don’t be a gazelle! (That one’s mine…not Peter’s. :))
3. Know there’s always a way out.
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. (1Corinthians 10:13 NIV)
Notice it says when you are tempted. Not if. When.
We live in a fallen world. A broken down, busted up group of people are we. Temptation goes back to the beginning of time, in a gorgeous garden where there was nary a want to be had. And yet they were tempted. How much more susceptible are we?
But God tells us he provides a way for us. A way out. A way to not succumb. A way to not buckle under the pressure of a world gone wonky. I don’t always know how he does it, I just trust he makes it available because he says so.
We have to have the want-to to choose the way he’s given. The better way. The way out.
Sometimes it’s complicated. I get that. But sometimes it’s as easy as squeezing the handle. Whatever the temptation, there is a way out. Always.
Fiercely for you!