Widening the Driveway, 2017

I like yard work in general, but there is one job I try to put off as much as possible.  Recently, the time came to do it again.   I refer to it as “widening the driveway”.  But I don’t do it with added concrete or asphalt.  Instead, I use an edger.  Edging the lawn is not my favorite task, so I put it off as long as I can.

After months of neglect, there was a lot of work to be done.  Interestingly, as I began to trim back the grass from the edges of the driveway and sidewalk, I found that they were wider than they appeared.  I remember a phrase I learned in high school science (either chemistry or physics), “Nature abhors a vacuum.”  And nature had seen the driveway and sidewalks as a vacuum and moved to fill that vacuum.  In trimming the edges, I added a couple inches to each side of the driveway and an inch to each side of the sidewalk.  Hence the term “widening the driveway.”

By doing nothing to control the takeover, the lawn sought to control its own boundaries.  Left unchecked for years, I imagine the sidewalks and driveway might eventually disappear from view altogether.

To me, this is a metaphor for life.  Our lives are like that driveway.  There are things in life that, like the grass or weeds, are seeking to take over.  If left unchecked, they slowly creep, inch by inch, into our lives.  And all of a sudden, we discover we have unwanted things in our lives that have made themselves at home.

In theological terms, we might call those things sins.  In psychological terms, we might call them unhealthy practices or habits.  It really does not matter what terms we are most comfortable with.  The problem is that we have become too comfortable with these things that are taking control of our lives.  We have given up control to something else.  And it order to regain control, sometimes we have to take the edger and cut them back.

Complicating that is time.  The longer we have neglected these areas of our lives, the more firmly rooted these sins/habits have become.  It becomes more and more difficult to get rid of them.  But in order to regain our lives and reestablish our boundaries, we sometimes have to do radical surgery.  It may be unpleasant (as edging is–lots of dust and dirt), but the results are worthwhile.

Then, if we continue to maintain the edges, it is much easier to remain in control.  The grass stays put and the driveway/sidewalk retains its desired contours.

As a Christian, I see the Holy Spirit as the edger.  We don’t have to do all the dirty work ourselves.  We just have to allow the edger to do its task.   We allow God to take control and go along for the ride.

There is an anonymous rhyme, sometimes attributed to the author Charles Reade:

We sow a thought and reap an act;
We sow an act and reap a habit;
We sow a habit and reap a character;
We sow a character and reap a destiny.

It is really a commentary on Proverbs 23:7  “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he” (KJV).

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About edwardsoule

The Rev. Dr. Edward A. Soule is now a retired United Methodist pastor who served 28 years as a minister in churches around the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church. Before that, he was in Christian radio for 10 years and was a Baptist minister for two years. Over the years, Ed has also been a teacher in public schools, a private school principal, and taught at a Bible college. He has a B.A. from Bethel University, St. Paul, MN; a M. Div. from Bethel Theological Seminary; and a D. Min. from United Theological Seminary, Dayton, OH. Ed has been married to Deborah (Mendelson) for 32 years. She is the executive director of Partnership for a Drug Free Community. They currently reside in the Hampton Cove community of Huntsville, AL, where Ed enjoys walking with their dog, Churchill, daily and keeping up the landscaping. "Dr. Edward" is available to speak to churches and other groups, pulpit supply, and interim work in the north Alabama/southern Tennessee area. Contact through this blog or directly at edsoule@comcast.net.
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