April 26, 2008 § Leave a comment

This week was the week to begin to restore our front yard. It is a huge task. My South Florida experience with lawns was no preparation for life in the Mid-Atlantic. The grass in Miami is more like what is known as Centipede Grass – the name tells the story. When a section in the yard dies all you have to do is throw some soil in the ‘hole’ and then water it. Over a period of days the surrounding grass sort of crawls across the uncovered space – within a week or so it is as though the bare spot was never there.

But here in Maryland it is different. The grass (Crab Grass, I believe) grows in clumps. Even the White House lawn, impeccable as it is, is a series of thousands of little clumps of grass that stand alone. When a clump dies it leaves what appears to be a divot from a decent seven iron shot – which means you have to either lay down new sod, or you have to re-seed it and then wait.

Reseeding is more than running the spreader over the lawn – there is a place for that – but not in this case. The problem is that where grass has died the ground is hard. This means that you have to either loosen the dirt, or add some. Then you have to seed it – and in my case, put some weird concoction of seed, fertilizer and accelerator on top of the new or loosened dirt. The hope is that within seven to fourteen days you will have new grass that will take the entire season to grow in (just in time for fall when it will begin to go dormant).

This is our third spring in the north. What I have learned is that there are always bare spots and therefore patchwork is always necessary. The lawn is never ‘there.’

Yesterday, at the end of the day, as I undertook this process it occurred to me that my life is like our yard. I can’t think of a year or a phase in my life when God wasn’t doing some serious patchwork on me.

The Gospel ensures that on earth we never really do arrive – not really (if we did, then what would there to look forward to in heaven?). What God has entrusted into our hearts is a sealed deal – no worries there. But again, there is the reality of that daily patchwork of the Gospel – the reminder that God didn’t rescue us to ignore us – that He really is interested and involved in who we are, where we are headed, how we are formed and what we are all about.

No wonder Jeremiah declares that God’s mercies (or compassions) are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). We need them every morning! I used to read that passage and find great comfort in it – and still do – but I don’t think I ever looked at it backwards, that is, I don’t think I ever considered how desperately and daily I need the very compassion that God never stops distributing.

So don’t despair. You and I will always need patchwork – every day and every year – until we are home with Christ.

Right now our yard looks as though it rained on a bad toilet paper job. The regimen Home Depot suggested (I did it, they helped) is peculiar – and for the time being it looks a bit silly. But it is my yard, and its only hope for repair is if I care enough to do the patchwork it needs – every spring – every year – every time a bare spot opens up. In a few weeks I’ll be the proud father of tender grass shoots only to find soon after that more patchwork is needed elsewhere. This is the nature of life – this is the nature of the life of faith. And yesterday, while the heavens declared God’s glory, those bare spots begged the Gospel.


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