At this time of year, there is a whirring sound heard ‘round the neighborhood. Up and down the streets, neighbors are doing their fall leaf cleanups.
One side effect of being empty-nesters is that my son is not available to help my husband with the annual leaf cleanup. With our over-abundance of leaves, it is a huge undertaking. Without AJ, my husband turned to me…. Oh, joy! My husband wore the backpack blower while I loosened up the wet leaves underneath with the rake.
But with the beautiful weather, it wasn’t as bad as I expected. It was fun to work together and even provided a few spiritual insights!
First of all, we only have this responsibility because we are blessed to own a home. Renters do not have to rake leaves, but when you are a homeowner, it’s necessary. We must be good stewards of what God has entrusted us with. A home that is not maintained falls into disrepair and loses its value. Likewise, the spiritual gifts that we have been blessed with are not to be left undeveloped and unused. If we have the gift of teaching, we are to study to show ourselved approved. If we have the gift of helps, we ought to seek out those in need. Those who are gifted musically practice to keep their skills sharp. The servant who buried his talent was called "wicked and lazy," but those who invested theirs were told "well done, good and faithful servant." (Matt. 25:23, 26)
When I was trying alone to move the leaves with the rake, it was hard work. I was striving in my own strength when I sensed a strong wind behind me - the blower - and the leaves suddenly lifted easily. So it is with the Spirit = the pneuma = the wind! We can toil in our own strength and make a little progress. But when His power comes, we are lifted in the struggle. We no longer bear the burden alone. We can accomplish greater things with greater ease when it is in His power that we labor.
but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31
The blower, though, needed the assistance of the rake to loosen up the matted leaves that were wedged in corners or under bushes. Now God doesn't need us to accomplish His purposes, but the Spirit can accomplish more in our lives when we partner with Him. He prompts us, reminds us, leads us, directs us, but it is when we respond in obedience that we can see change and victory.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Matt. 11:29-30
Our work for the day was finally done. My aching muscles were thankful I'm married to a chiropractor! But the full cleanup is not done. We tackled the front yard, but the sides and back may need professional help. Sometimes, we too need help from godly counselors who are trained to lead us through difficult times.
And when it was all done, I looked up toward the heavens thankful for the victory over the leaves - only to see the branches still had some more leaves that were sure to fall... aaarrgggghhhh! It's NEVER over!!! Next year, the glorious herald of spring will carry the chore of the fall cleanup with it. And as long as we breathe, there will always be something that God will work in our lives. Paul was thankful that he had come so far in his walk with the Lord, but he also knew there was still far to go, more work to be done. Can this be discouraging sometimes? Sure, but only if we look at how far we still have to go without remembering how far we've come.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. ...But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Phil. 3:12-14