This weekend, I unwittingly got sucked into a project that seemed like it was never going to end.  I had known for a while that I needed to do some maintenance on the mower deck of our riding lawn mower. Three years of hard duty had taken their toll on the machine.  The mower blades were chipped, rutted, and bent such that the grass was less being cut than ripped off by blunt force of the spinning jagged edge of the blade. In addition to the damage to the mower blades, bit by bit, a layer of grass and dirt as dense as a black hole had compacted on the entire underside surface structure and had continuously been building ever thicker for three years.  I knew from the sound of the mower’s engine that it was having to work progressively harder for each successive episode of grass cutting.  So, I knew that I had finally reached the weekend that I unavoidably had to accomplish the maintenance on the mower deck or risk having a mower that would just stop working altogether.

When I started the procedure to drop the mower deck, things seemed to proceed relatively easy.  There were only five points of contact that held the mower deck to the underside of the “tractor.”  All five points were held in place by lynch-pins that were easily removed, and the metal arms or bolts that were held in place by the lynch-pins could then be pulled from their attachment point, dropping the mower deck free.  Then all I had to do was to slide the mower deck a little further forward so that I could remove the drive belt, then slide the whole apparatus out from under the tractor for service.  This whole process took about 10 minutes, so I thought I would have an easy time with my maintenance task, followed shortly by the reattachment to the tractor.  But from that point on, it seemed like everything that I attempted to do turned into a much larger chore by unanticipated problems such as missing tools or equipment breaking down (the pressure washer crapped out on me) or each small task in the cleaning  requiring much more effort than expected, including the removal of several nuts that had apparently been screwed on at the factory by an angry 800-pound gorilla on steroids.  So a job that I thought would take maybe an hour or two at most turned into a chore of several hours over two days with frequent breaks since I was having to do most of this in the hot summer sun with high temperatures and high humidity, getting drenched with sweat and covered with filth each time. 

But the time finally came when I got most of the chore done and everything reassembled complete with new cutting blades for the mower deck.  As I began to reattach the mower deck to the tractor, the seemingly easy task of taking it off was not nearly as easy as putting it back on.  I had already forgotten how the attachment arms were supposed to be positioned, and the pictures in the manual were not very clear.  Moreover, every step was made harder somehow by some difficulty that I had not anticipated.  But after a couple more frustrating hours, I had the mower deck back on the tractor and had only to reattach the drive belt.  One last summit to conquer.  That was when I realized that I had no idea how the belt was supposed to be routed, and there didn’t seem to be any obvious way to do so.  When I consulted the owner’s manual, I found that none of the diagrams or pictures matched the structure that I saw in front of me.  Somehow, the model I owned had been left out of a manual that covered every other model in the series quite thoroughly.  So I searched on the internet for a diagram of the belt routing because practically everything is on the internet these days, right?  Unfortunately, the only things I could find on the internet simply matched the useless pictures in my owner’s manual that had no correspondence with my situation.

I finally decided to just sit in front of the mower deck and try to reason through how the belt would have to move, given the positioning of the pulleys on the deck.  This worked for a few minutes, and I was able to solve all issues save one.  I still didn’t know at which point on the front of the belt’s path that the belt was then pulled out to attach to the main drive pulley on the tractor.  Nothing seemed obvious to me.  After several minutes of trying to figure this out, I knew I had reached the limits of my knowledge, patience, and strength.  So I began to think of what options I might have on the following day for resolution, such as returning to the shop where I had purchased the riding mower and asking whether they had a diagram for the belt routing or at least some advice on how to proceed.  As I was thinking through these options, it occurred to me that I had not prayed about it.  So as soon as this thought came to me, I said a quick prayer asking for the Lord’s guidance.  And as soon as I finished praying the words, a thought popped into my head to try pulling the belt from a particular point which I had not tried, had not thought of before, and which did not seem obvious to me, but sure enough this was the right place to thread the belt forward, and within seconds, I had the belt reattached and had finally completed this seemingly gargantuan task which had consumed most of my weekend.

There have been so many times over the past couple of years that I have increasingly turned to God for help in every conceivable little situation that seemed impossible or simply beyond my knowledge, patience, strength, courage, time available, or capability to solve or which was a dire need in the moment.  Countless times, I have lost things, and have had to pray to God for help in finding the lost item.  Each time, He directed my steps right to the object, or he directed my eyes precisely to the point in the room that the object lay despite my having searched the room multiple times and not being able to see the missing object, and many times putting my eyes precisely on the edge of the object that was barely sticking out from under a pile of other things (I most definitely would have never found it).  There was even one night when my wife and I struggled for 45 minutes to get a passenger seat reattached in our mini-van without any success.  When we reached the end of our ideas and patience and had paused for a rest, sweaty and tired, I prayed out loud, “Lord, we could use a little help here.”  As soon as I had finished the prayer, I then grabbed the back of the seat and slid it just the right way into just the right place immediately, and it locked effortlessly into place.  We both laughed at how easy this difficult task had become once we asked God for help. 

Too often we struggle through tasks big and small and don’t think to ask God for help.  Or we ask Him as a last resort, thinking that He doesn’t want to be bothered with such mundane matters as this.  But God loves each of us with an all-consuming, boundless love.  And because He loves us this way, He wants to be involved in all areas of our lives.  He loves to help us and enjoys helping us because He wants us to be happy and successful.  He is just a prayer away and is willing to help us in anything we ask.  Psalm 46:1 tells us, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”  What kind of trouble will God help us in?  Any kind of trouble, big or small.  If you think it is a problem, and you need help solving it, then that is enough for God to be concerned as well and to be willing to help us.  Of course this most likely would not apply to areas of sin.  I don’t think God would help one to solve the problems involved in robbing the local bank for example (James 4:3).  But in all the usual, normal, even mundane matters of our lives, God is there to help us if we only ask.  James 4:2 tells us “[Y]ou do not have because you do not ask.”  Jesus tells us to ask, and when we ask, “it will be given to you” (Matthew 7:7, Matthew 21:22). 

I pray that you will learn to use God’s help in all matters big and small, “casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). 

 


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    I'm a retired soldier, having spent 23 years of my life serving our country, actually 30 years when you count the reserve and National Guard time as well.  I believe in servant leaders, following the example of our Lord, and I believe in giving back to the troops once one has attained a certain status or level of success in life.  But I also believe in fighting back against corruption and incompetence wherever you find it if it hurts people.  Our national values were worth dying for.  They are also worth living for.  A man or woman can actually live a life by these principles of humility, service, love, duty, and honor, and have a significant impact on the world around them...if you have the dedication to see it through. 

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