Lawn and order

I hear there are odd people who actually like to mow their grass.

I am also told there are people who enjoy exercising. And those who eat kale willingly. Go figure.

For me, mowing is a necessary evil. But I can see the attraction: it turns disheveled, shaggy turf into crew-cut trimness, ready for inspection. And today is a good day for the task, sunny but not hot. In my neighborhood, the drone of other mowers in the distance sound like large bees.

As I trudge along, with an hour to fill with random thoughts, I muse on the human need for order. Though it varies in individuals, on the whole, we like to organize and simplify our environment. For some, like my wife, order is connected to a sense of wellbeing. Too much clutter makes her feel unsettled.

Of course, this can be taken to extremes. My neighbor tells me that when he moved in, the man who built and lived in what would become my house went over in the spring and said to him, “Just so you know, we don’t approve of dandelions around here.”

Where do we get this need for tidiness? Paul tells us that God is not a god of disorder but of peace (1 Cor. 14:33). And in my devotional reading of Exodus, the preparations required for the Israelites to meet with God in chapter 19 point strongly to a sense of orderliness – even moral orderliness. They had to prepare to meet a holy God. Holiness is the ultimate order: an undeviating alignment to righteousness.

Conversely, all sin is disorder. (Which is not to say that all disorder is sin. Or otherwise my garage would be cause for repentance.) I find it fascinating that Scripture often uses the metaphor of a wild ocean as a symbol for rebellion. It is the realm of chaos, a complete rejection of God’s control and regulation.

Nature, out of order.

I think, then, about the old story, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. This poem by Goethe (later mousified by Walt Disney) tells of the pandemonium unleashed by the student of a wizard who takes upon himself power without wisdom. What starts as a small, self-centered deviation from the master’s plan becomes an uncontrollable flood of trouble. Only the returning wizard can restore peace.

What a great picture of sin.

A cloud above me catches my eye. It matches the outline of a tree so well, it could be a white wig for the foliage. It makes me thankful once again for all the reminders that our Creator is a God of order. And that he offers peace in this chaotic world through his son, Jesus, who exchanged his life of perfect alignment to God’s will for our chaotic lives of rebellion. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

So, I’ll let this process of trimming my turf be a reminder of the order and peace that Jesus has brought into my life.

It might even help me enjoy it.

Lord, it takes effort to bring orderliness into our daily lives: mowing, cleaning, repairing. We do it because we hunger for tidiness. But what we crave most of all is alignment to your holiness, your perfection, your beauty. Thank you for all you have done through Jesus’s death and resurrection to bring that peace and order to us.

Readers: What have you noticed about God’s sense of order today?

Tell me about it.

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Bruce Van Patter

As a freelance illustrator, graphic recorder, and author, Bruce is on a lifelong journey to delight in the handiwork of the Creator. And he’s always ready for fellow travelers.

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