Only four months ago, in early December, I was celebrating the conclusion of my Fall 2018 leaf removal campaign. See here. With the large number of oak trees in our yard and the surrounding neighbors’ yards, I usually end up hauling 50+ tarp-loads of leaves to the curb every November. There’s obviously not any yard work to be done during the Winter months – December thru March – up here in Rochester, New York, with the cold temperatures and an almost-constant blanket of snow. But the oak trees continue to drop branches and twigs on the lawn when the Winter winds blow. And the heavy accumulation of snow on the lawn for four months often results in what we call, “snow mold,” a type of white-ish fungus that ends up killing the grass if unattended.
So, every Spring, I must go outside with my flexible, metal rake and rake our entire half-acre lawn to clean out all the debris and dead grass and break up any patches of snow mold. I was able to get out there for the first time on Saturday, March 16th. Argh, raking is VERY hard work, especially the first outing when your muscles aren’t use to it. I ended up raking about a third of the back lawn that day, and twenty-four hours later, I felt like I had been hit by a Mack truck! As of this writing, I’ve raked about 33% of the entire lawn.
It’s really rough on the grass when you’re repeatedly dragging a metal rake through it. While you are removing twigs, acorns, leaves, thatch, and other debris, you’re also pulling at the grass itself, removing the dead grass, but also dislodging some of the healthy grass. If the grass had feelings and a mouth it would constantly be yelling, “Ouch!,” as you continued to drag that unsympathetic rake through it over and over. As “traumatic” as the raking must be for the grass, the end result is very positive. With much of the clutter removed, the remaining grass and the soil beneath it have abundantly more access to air, sunshine, and moisture, making for a healthier, more vibrant lawn. Have you guessed where this post is heading yet? I’m guessing you probably have.
As with many of life’s challenges and circumstances, we can make a few spiritual analogies when it comes to Spring raking. The Lord often uses circumstances and events in our lives to clean out the clutter, distractions, and temptations. He prunes away the dead branches in our lives. It’s painful and disconcerting at the time, but the end result is we’re more receptive to His Word and His leading and closer and more reliant on Him. So when the “raking” comes into your life, and it will surely come, resist the temptation to be bitter and resentful. Use the opportunity to “lean in” even closer to your Father who loves you and desires the very best for you.
“My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.” – Proverbs 3:11-12
“It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” – Hebrews 12:7-11