There was a season when God taught me some valuable lessons on forgiveness. It involved a lawn mower, a fence post and whole lot of sweat and tears. That hot summer day, I was about the business of mowing our yard, my weekly chore. I didn't want to be there, I never did.
Because our yard is really renovated pasture grass, there are surprises hidden from time to time, dirt holes, tire tracks, mole mounds and tunnels. But there was one obstacle that I had forgotten about that was hidden and deeply planted. It was an old buried and broken steel fence post that had been cemented 3-feet-deep in the yard. It was barely peeking over the blades of grass. I didn't notice how close I was mowing next to it, until of course, it was too late. Thwack! The mower had a blade-on collision with the post and it stopped my mower cold.
Hitting that post collided my attitude also. It stopped right in the middle of my lousy temperament too. As I was already dreading this chore, now it seemed that my chore list got a little bit longer to complete. That thwack just forced the mower out of commission for the next 15 minutes.
"Time to cool off". I told myself. I had to catch my breath a little.
It seemed my mower was needing some breathing room too. I walked away to get a cold drink in the house. One thing I know about mowers when hitting steel posts every other swipe, they like to take a breather before returning to full crank position.
I swigged down some icy cold water and it helped cool my body down. But heat rose in my frustrated heart. Resentment was building as the clock tick-tocked. The last thing I needed that day was a delay in the finish. I went back outside to asses the restart-the-mower plan. I bent over to pull the start cord on the mower.
Guess what? Did you know that mowers have a sense of humor? Deep inside it's grass laden underbelly, that old mower was laughing hysterically at me for taking such a short breathing break. "In your dreams Jack!" Suddenly it was shouting "hands off"!!! I failed to see the humor.
I wasn't laughing...I just got more frustrated. And my frustration was fueled by an escalating anger until I screamed a little. Where upon, and henceforth, I invited myself to the biggest pity party on the block that day.
It was a party of two. Me and God.
I looked down at the problem post and said, "This is all YOUR fault!" (Can you tell I talk to inanimate objects too much?) The tip of the fence post just sat there buried, blinking at me with a blank stare.
And then it happened. Then God tapped me on my sweaty shoulder and immediately started resolving my resentment.
"You see that fence post, it's buried like the unyielding bitterness you have buried in your heart. You have held on to this unforgiving spirit for a while now..it's time to give that to Me. I have watched you dig resentment, cemented with the deep-seated feelings around your hurts."
God's gentle tap hit my heart with heavy conviction. I saw His point. Yeah, I got it. I had some more clean-up to do. As my eyes leaked onto my sweaty tank-top, my heart confessed the error of my ways. I had been carrying some deeply hidden junk and that day God uncovered and mowed down the tangled, overgrown weeds. He brought grace and forgiveness into those hardened, buried places.
This is the part of the story where I tell you that I forgave those on God's agenda and then jumped right up and resumed mowing. That didn't happen. I spent some time crying, forgiving, and listening to God. I was also "mowed down" by my Creator who cared enough to put a fence post in my way, so I would be stopped by it, so He could give me a life-long lesson in forgiveness
I took notes that in God's forgiveness school. My grassy knees were imprinted with visible outlines of weeds pressed in as I pressed into God's grace and let the tears flow. It seems my heart needed a pressure valve, and once the explosion of tears was over, there was peace and a light feeling in my spirit.
No more heaviness, no more shame, no more blame.
God didn't intend for us to carry the burden of an unforgiving spirit. It will hold you captive and bind you up tighter than a straight jacket. So if you have some resentment in your heart, let God tap your shoulder and mow you over with His wonderful gift of grace! We serve a God who commands us to forgive, over and over. Yes, even that person you are thinking of right now. Jesus taught us to forgive with the finest example of asking the Father to forgive those who put him on the cross. He didn't turn a blind eye to our wrongdoings or injustices, nor did He let anger fester in His heart. He freely gave the gift of forgiveness and releasing us from guilt.
"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8
Not forgiving someone poisons our soul and taints our relationships. I need forgiveness on a daily basis....sometimes minute by minute. God freely gives forgiveness and so should I. So should you.
Who do you need to forgive today? From one mower to another, there is God's grace to help you dig out those deeply planted "posts" in your life.