Seven and a half years ago, I began to pray that God would bless my children and I with a home of our own. We were living in a rental house, on HUD, and it just seemed like the government and our landlord were always all up in our business. So I began to pray some very specific prayers. I needed a house we could afford on a very tight budget, and I wanted a big back yard that was completely fenced in. I also prayed for wood floors because I have outrageous allergies. And please let it be on a street that’s safe to raise kids on!
A year later, I moved into that house. Because God is good. And a friend of mine in real estate said to me one day, “I have found your house.” We had never discussed “my house” but she was certain it was the one. So I went with her to look at it, and there it was: all that I had asked for being sold way under market thanks to the housing deflation. Before the papers were completed and signed, I would go over and walk the yard, praying and thanking God for the length and width of this fenced-in land with a nice-sized, everything-I-asked-for house and yard. I did this for a few weeks and then we moved in right after my birthday. Happy birthday to me!
One thing I neglected to consider in asking for this house has been a thorn in my side since: The yard. It’s big. It’s wonderful. And it is unruly! And every year since, I have complained about the maintenance of my yard. I mowed for almost two hours yesterday with a rotary mower because my yard tears up mechanical lawn mowers. There’s poison ivy and dead leaves from last fall all over the place. Another blessing: my house is surrounded by oaks trees, which really helps cut down cooling costs. But in the fall, I have to dig a path to get out my back door and then spend a month of weekend just clearing up right around the house. Aargh!
I mentioned I was mowing yesterday, and with all that time, I usually pray and listen while I mow. It’s good conversation time between the Lord and I. And yesterday, while sweating profusely and pushing my achy muscles past the point of exhaustion, I was praying about my yard. Only this time, my prayers sounded different, which pleasantly surprised me. You see, I was thanking God for the yard and the opportunity to mow it.
I have literally never done that before. And I don’t know what brought it on other than the fact that I finally remembered that it was a blessing that I had prayed very specifically for. I had asked for it and been graciously given my heart’s desire. And the Holy Spirit shared with me last night that caring for my yard is an opportunity to show gratitude for God’s gifts, and even an act of worship. An act of worship because while mowing, the only thing that sustains me is lifting my face to God and looking at Him while I endure the hardship that is my yard.
I thought about this truth in relation to other blessings that God gives us, like relationships (family, friends, etc.), jobs, talents, or even our possessions. Our cars, houses, paychecks, etc. One thing is obvious: this lesson applies across them all. There are hardships associated with many of our blessings. It is obviously much easier to see how this lesson applies to our belongings, so let me ask you to consider for a moment our relational ones: Our spouses and children, who develop and mature along lines we don’t design. Maintaining those relationships are often easily done because we love these people deeply. But consider the times when your spouse disappoints you or your children turn against you. Is it as easy? I can say from my own experiences it is not. But in those moments, maintaining our relationships – though not necessarily enjoyable or fun, or even deserved- becomes an act of gratitude and worship to our Father. He gives good gifts, even if we don’t immediately and always perceive the full extent of His blessings. And never mind the fact that many times, we have asked for these blessings in disguise!
I want to encourage you to consider your blessings. Remember the many times you prayed to God for the things you now have or the people in your life. Look past all the hardships to see the beautiful answer to your pray and worship Him who is faithful. God is good!