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Friday, May 9, 2014

God's Grace In The Midst Of A Lawn Mower Battle

I have this buddy who lives in Virginia, and during the months of February and March, while Dani and I are still shoveling snow from our driveway and trying to stay warm, he likes to call me up and talk about how he's prepping the lawnmower for the first mow of the season. When we're still waiting for the temperature to rise above 30, he's out getting a tan. When his barbecue grill has gone through one propane tank, we're still waiting to even use ours.

I don't get to gloat to him very much, but I will say this: I have a far more awesome lawnmower! And though I don't get to use it as much as he gets to use his, mine's got more horsepower, a wider cutting range, and far more style. I try to use this to make him jealous, but I don't think it ever works.

Anyway, so after months and months of a laboriously long winter, we finally had a nice sunny day where I got to dust off my awesome riding mower and give the lawn a once over. First, it was time to change the oil.

And so began the first of many things that went wrong that day.

You shouldn't change the oil on a completely cold engine. It's best to let the mower run for 10 minutes or so to warm up the engine. It makes the oil flow better. But after sitting around all winter, my lawn mower's battery was dead. This did not surprise me, but it didn't really make me happy either. I did a quick internet search to see if it was ok to jumpstart a mower's battery with a car, and though most people said it was ok, they advised: DO NOT START THE CAR! Apparently the rev of the car's engine will overpower the mower's battery and potentially cause it to catch on fire. I'm no mechanic. All I know is what I read, and what I read on at least six different websites was: do not start the car! Do not start the car! Do not start the car!

Well, that didn't work.

My frustration was growing.

I called up a local retailer who serviced the mower and asked about how to jumpstart it. The serviceman said: "Start the car."

"Are you sure?" I asked. "I don't want to blow up my mower."

"What makes you think you'll blow up your mower?" he asked

"The internet."

He laughed. "Well, we do it all the time here."

So I said a quick prayer, started the car, and mower jumpstarted just fine.

Stupid internet.

Now, time to change the oil.

Again, I'm no mechanic, but I've changed the oil on enough cars to know the process. I know you're not supposed to over-tighten the oil filter. It says right on the oil filter: tighten by hand. Furthermore, the John Deere instructional video on how to change your John Deere oil filter clearly states: Be careful not to over-tighten your oil filter. Well whoever it was at the manufacturing plant who put this oil filter on must have used a power drill because I nearly broke my hand trying to get it off. I ended up having to make a trip to Home Depot to buy a special oil filter wrench. After another quick prayer and a few grunts and groans later the filter finally came off.

It was passed noon by the time I finally got the oil changed and I was thoroughly aggravated by what had become an exceptionally long task. My entire morning had been wasted on what should have been a 15 minute job.

And I still wanted to:

  1. Mow the law
  2. Clean the barbecue grill
  3. Take down the broken pieces of fence
  4. Stack some wood
  5. And maybe get started on the upstairs renovation

Ambitious, I know.

I did manage to clean the barbecue grill though, and that was another laborious task more time consuming and messy than I had anticipated.

But back to the mower.

Ten minutes into mowing the lawn I noticed smoke coming out of the engine. The oil cap had popped off and the brand new three quarts of oil I had poured into the tank was having a party all over the engine. Awesome. Fifteen minutes later everything was as clean as I could make it, but the battery was still dead. So I pushed the mower over to the car to jumpstart it again.

At this point, it occurred to me that with so much oil spread all over the engine, and live jumper cables being hooked up to the mower, there was a good chance I could blow myself up. I had cleaned up the oil spill pretty well, and figured if I was extra cautious when hooking up the cables I would be ok, and—after another quick prayer—I was.

I mowed for another 10 minutes before I had to get off the mower and move the newly cleaned grill. Upon forgetting to put the mower in park, the mower powered down once I stood up. The battery was still dead, and this time I was too far away from the car for a jumpstart.

My aggravation peaked.

It was now about 4 o'clock in the afternoon. That's it. I was done. Apparently I was not supposed to work outside that day. Life tried to warn me first thing that morning when the mower's battery was dead, and again during my epic battle with the oil filter. I should've listened. I should've just stayed inside and procrastinated the day away.

But, in the plus column, I learned two things from all of this:

  1. The internet is stupid. Granted, the internet has a lot of great advice and instructions for many of life's little issues, but I'm sure if it were possible to compile all of the info on the internet and sort it out into "truth" and "non-truth" 90% of it would be absolute rubbish.

  2. God is never-endingly gracious. Despite my horrible attitude, God answered my prayers to help me get the oil filter off. Despite my near temper-tantrum, He answered my prayer to get the mower started. And even though I was ready to put my fist through a wall after the oil spill, God graciously prevented me from blowing up.

Despite all that went wrong that day, and despite my poor attitude, God continued to meet my needs and prove His reliability even when I wasn't acting very deserving of it. It just goes to demonstrate what a truly gracious God we have. His goodness and mercy extends to all those who ask for it.

As far as my awesome lawn mower goes, I'll revisit the dead battery some other day. Tomorrow it's supposed to rain, to which I say: good. I didn't want to work outside anyway.

Keep pinchin' :-)

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