“All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls off, but the word of the LORD endures forever.”
– 1 Peter 1:24-25 (quoting Is.40:6,8)
Our lives are fleeting; here today, gone tomorrow. Like mist.
“You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.”
– James 4:14
Depressing? Maybe. But it’s true, nonetheless.
I’m not trying to depress you today, however. Rather, I’ve observed something interesting that I think helps to explain an important spiritual truth, one which is easy to miss.
I have spent my entire life living in New England. The last four have found me near the Canadian border. Winter is very long in these parts. The ground starts to freeze, the snow covers the ground, and white blankets our yard and also the yards of my neighbors for nearly 6 months of the year. This past winter extended nearly into May before the milder days began to outnumber the cold, dreary ones.
There are times in New England when it seems that warm days and green grass will never come again. In fact, one would think, with the inherently short season of life that it enjoys, that we would have compassion on our poor little grass plants, and allow them to flourish unhindered, naturally. You know, real tall, so that the little bunnies can hide in the front yard unseen, and the wildflowers start to grow and shine in their God-given glory.
But this never happens.
Truly, if we were to do so, the odds are good that our neighbors would not appreciate it. “It hurts the look of the neighborhood”, they would say. “Those folks are so lazy”, they may speculate.
I have sympathy for grass. The growing season is so short, and the life span of these little green plants so fragile, that mowing the grass seems so amazingly violent. Just a viscous, mean-spirited thing to do, cutting the grass.
Well, some would agree, for sure, but most would not. In fact, most people appreciate a well-cared-for lawn, and by well-cared-for, you know what I mean: clean, sharp beds with fresh mulch, edging trimmed nicely, with the lawn itself manicured in neat little diamond patterns, lush, green, and soft underfoot. The kind of lawn you want to play with a puppy on in bare feet. The kind your dad taught you to have, and the reason you felt like a real adult when you bought your first mower.
Why? Well, a wild field may be nice to look at from a distance, but it is hard to enjoy practically, isn’t it? An untended field is home to ground-level bees’ nests, snakes, poison oak, thorns and thistles, and prickers. Ticks, too. Walking with bare legs through a wild, untended field can be, well, dangerous.
But when our lawn is regularly pruned and trimmed low, kept restrained, put under consistent discipline and pain of chastisement from the mower, it results in a landscape that is soft, inviting, and safe for both children, pets and guests. You want to spend time with it. It has the potential to help create so many positive memories.
Besides, this is the entire reason we plant grass to begin with: so we can enjoy just such an environment. Perhaps this is why it is so difficult to embrace and think warmly towards a neighbor who shows no interest in caring for their property. When people see how we take care of things that belong to us in such a haphazard, careless manner, it makes them wonder if you would care about the things that matter to them. Can they trust you? Are you safe? Would you look out for their interests in their absence?
Sure, that’s an awful lot to speculate about from an untended lawn, but this is how many people think, even if they wouldn’t admit to you.
Our lives are so short, so….vapor-like. We have such a fleeting moment to enjoy ourselves, to experience the pleasure life would offer. Why should we restrain ourselves in any way? What are moral ethics but the imposing of another’s will upon my life? What reward is there for caring how others view my life and testimony?
Lots of folks do whatever they want, practicing all sorts of sin, and yet they appear so happy, content, even triumphant, in the absence of such “old fashioned” values.
The answer is that there is no life more miserable than a selfish life. Living to please yourself feels good today, but it leads to a questionable reputation, broken relationships, and a lifestyle that God cannot use, because it isn’t safe for others to “hang out on”. Nobody wants their precious little ones crawling over your untended life, and situational ethics, least of all your heavenly Father.
This is why the great apostle Peter warned us that the path of life is one which is regularly “pruned”.
“Now for this reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.” 2 Peter 1:5-7
We can only do this by applying God’s word, and specifically His commandments, as well as the teachings of Yeshua and his apostles, to our lives on a daily basis. This means we need to get our “flowery tops” cut off frequently.
Your individuality is important to God and others, but is only of benefit when it is constrained by the cultivating influence of the Word.
Want a better, more fulfilling life?
Peter would say, “Mow your lawn!”