Day 4 The Birthday Mow

It’s day 4 of the 31 Days challenge linking with

Read what happened one day last summer when my grandson and I took on a chore as a birthday gift.

It was the third week of summer vacation, and my eleven-year-old grandson, Caleb, was already bored spending time in grandma-land. I tried to think of things for him to do so he wouldn’t become a total couch potato.

One day we had a house-cleaning lesson. It may be a good thing for a young man to know how to clean toilets, but he was less than thrilled. What could I do to get him out of the house for awhile?

I pondered this as I heard the neighbor’s lawn guy mowing their grass. I should ask him to do ours. That would make a great birthday present for my husband. On second thought, I could do it and teach Caleb how to mow at the same time. Besides, boys his age should be mowing grass.

I donned some work clothes, put on my oldest tennis shoes and a hat. I filled a big water bottle and pulled on some garden gloves. I was ready to whip the lawn into shape and teach my grandson a lesson in the process.

I pulled the lawn mower out of the shed and checked the gas level. Not very much. I should probably fill up. When I went to look for more, all I found were a half dozen empty gas cans. I thought maybe I could get the job done with what I had in the tank, so I grabbed the bar on the mower and pulled the cord. Nothing. I checked the lever with the turtle and bunny picture. Slow for turtle, fast for bunny. Was it the choke? Which way should I push it? Since I couldn’t remember, I settled on the middle position and tried the cord again. Nothing. By this time, Caleb decided to go back to his video game as the birthday mow didn’t look too promising.

Usually at this point in my yard mowing, I call my husband for a Mowing-For-Dummies lesson. “How come I can’t start the lawn mower?” I would usually ask. He would patiently explain I had to hold both bars and pull the cord.

“It always starts for me,” he would say. Of course it does.

I didn’t make the call this time since it would spoil the surprise. Instead I grabbed an empty gas can and my car keys. “Let’s go get some gas,” I told my grandson. “Maybe if I fill the tank the mower will start.”

A few minutes later, we were back with the gasoline. I poured it into the mower while giving Caleb a mini lecture on gasoline safety. I tried a couple more pulls on the lawnmower rope and it roared to life. I mowed the perimeter of a small section closest to the patio as a way of instruction, then motioned to Caleb to take over. As he reached for the mower handle, it sputtered and died. No amount of effort coaxed it back to life.

I decided to give up the surprise idea and call my husband to help me troubleshoot the problem. It’s the thought that counts.

“I wanted to surprise you by mowing the lawn,” I said as I gave him a quick rundown of the past hour. He appreciated the birthday surprise and told me what to do. “I already did all that,” I said in a snippy tone.

“You probably flooded it,” he said. “Just let it sit for awhile and try again later.”

I was in yard-work mode, but I reluctantly went inside to do some housework. Thirty minutes later, Caleb and I went back out for another stab at starting the mower. We took turns pulling the rope with no success.  He tired of the chore and asked if he could go inside. “Okay, but If you hear the mower, come back and help me,” I told him.

Why didn’t I just call the lawn guy over here to do this job? It would’ve been so much easier.

My frustration level rising, I called my husband again for another troubleshooting session. “I can’t understand it,” I griped. “I did everything you told me to do and it still won’t start.”

“Oh, no. I’m so sorry. It’s my fault. I just remembered when I changed the oil last weekend I turned the gas supply switch off. I must have forgotten to turn it back on.”

Are you kidding me? All this time it couldn’t get any gas? I felt vindicated but angry. I looked where he told me and flipped the switch. The mower roared to life with the next pull of the cord. Caleb soon joined me, and we mowed the big back yard, taking breaks to empty the mower’s bag and get a cold drink of water.

“It’s too hot,” he complained.

“I know, but that’s part of the birthday present,” I said. “Everything we had to do today makes the gift more valuable.” I said the words in my best teach-a-lesson voice while the Lord tried to get my attention.

I had the right motive, but my attitude went from sweet to frustrated to angry. How valuable is a gift given with an angry heart? According to 2 Corinthians 9:7, the attitude is as important as the gift. “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

I thought I was teaching my grandson, but I was the one who needed instruction. Just like the switch on the lawn mower stopped the fuel supply, I allowed my attitude to obstruct the flow of love. The next time I give a gift of service, I’ll check the supply lines first.