When we returned to the US after twenty-one years abroad, we bought a house with an extensive lawn. The homes we had rented during our expatriate years had, at most, low maintenance grounds. Since my husband, Brad, was starting a challenging job and had a long commute, I volunteered to cut the lawn each week. Initially I enjoyed the exercise and slowly touring the whole property from behind the mower. But as life in Texas got busier, I began to wonder if cutting the lawn was the best use of my time. It didn’t seem to have a higher purpose.
One day, I was mowing early in the morning and two children whizzed by on scooters, followed by their parents. Although I was rushing to finish the lawn, I felt an urgency to stop and introduce myself to them. Knowing I was new to the neighborhood, they asked where I had moved from. I said, “China,” and followed up with a thumbnail sketch of the foreign countries where we had lived. Colleen, the mama, asked, “Which place was your favorite?” I answered, as I usually do, “Wherever I am currently living.”
Colleen began to cry. The dad, Robert, said, “We just found out that my company is transferring me to Chicago. Colleen has always lived in Texas near her family. She has been crying about moving all morning.”
I said, “It is very hard to move. But my husband and I have found that each time we do, it deepens our relationship, since, initially, we are each other’s only friends. We affirm our relationship by puzzling through each difficult transition together, and by re-creating home in a new place. In ancient times, a lady named Ruth, affirmed to the person she was moving with, ‘Where you go, I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.’ I’ve sometimes heard this quotation used at weddings.”
Robert said, “We know that story.” Colleen said, “I am going to write that quotation on the blackboard in our kitchen, so I can read it every day.” I said, “You have no idea how helpful this conversation has been to me. I was feeling like cutting the lawn was such a waste of time, but if I hadn’t been mowing, I wouldn’t have met you.”
Application: Dear friend, all of us have tasks we’d rather not do. Weary friend, it is easy to get in the habit of complaining about or avoiding those tasks. My encounter with the Colleen and Robert taught me that God could use a task I didn’t want to do to position me in the right place at the right time.
What task do you have to do regularly that you’d rather not do? Tell about a time when that task became a divine opportunity. If that hasn’t happened yet, brainstorm some ways that task might become a divine opportunity.
Decision Making and the Will of God: A Biblical Alternative to the Traditional View by Gary Friesen and and J. Robin Maxson