Into the Thick Patch

June 25, 2024 | Jaci Miller

I pushed through the grass, hoping the mower wouldn’t quit. I’d finished three-fourths of the very wet yard, wanting to hurry things along for other tasks that waited, but this patch ahead grew especially thick. I hadn’t wanted to raise the level of the mower blades because, well, who wants to mow the same spot twice? So, when the engine sputtered, I backed the mower out of the thick patch.

Suddenly, the engine stalled. I’d pushed it too far.

I headed inside to cool the engine.

Forty-five minutes later, I restarted the mower. Okay, I’ve learned my lesson. I need to go much slower.

I eased into the thick patch again, pushing mere inches at a time. After just a few minutes … sputter-clunk! 

A neighbor across the street glanced my way.

Fuming and embarrassed, I dragged the mower into the driveway and scraped scads of lawn gunk from the underside. I stomped indoors to cool my head. 

After another 45-minute interim of steaming about the situation, I returned to the mower for a third try. I stared that sucker down. It stared back.

I raised the blade level.

The thick patch fell to the lawn mower in minutes.

A one-hour job had taken three because of my stubbornness. I had to learn the hard way.

Ever been like that spiritually? When God is trying to tell you something and you just keep going your own way, until … sputter-clunk.

He stops you in your tracks and tries to reset your course. But, if you’re like me, you just keep pushing into the thick patch — territory that’s taken you down before.

Pharaoh learned the hard way too. In Exodus 7-12, this ruler of Egypt encountered multiple plagues demonstrating the hand of God at work. Plague after plague befell him and his countrymen, yet he refused to yield to the Lord. How many times did he hear, “Let my people go” and still resist? 

It took the deaths of all the firstborn in Egypt to change Pharaoh’s mind. Finally, after having to learn the hard way, Pharaoh released God’s people from their slavery. I wonder if God’s heart ached at the suffering Pharaoh caused his people. All because of his disobedience.

The lawn mower kept telling me that I needed to reset my thinking about the thick patch of grass. God kept telling Pharaoh that he needed to change his thinking about the Hebrews. When God “stops the mower,” we need to exercise discernment. Is the Lord asking us to rethink the situation? Pharaoh flagrantly disobeyed — disobedience to the Lord necessitates a rethink. In the instance of my lawn mowing, sheer stubbornness and self-centeredness motivated me to push on against a foolish situation. Also behaviors that need rethinking. 

I suspect that most of us learn the hard way. Yet, when God calls for a stop, we need to embrace the pause and consider what He is asking of us.