Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Commando Lawn Mowers and Romans 5 Days

I glanced out the front window this morning then stood, fascinated. You know how GI’s after WWII came home and took any job they could find? Well, I think some green berets must have just gotten discharged from Iraq, because commandos were mowing the park across the street. I’m serious. So were they. They had these riding lawnmowers that acted more like ATVs, with fast, big back wheels and perky swiveling front ones. There were two, being driven by men in full camouflage, and they were going FAST. Had to be over 30 miles an hour, back and forth in tight little spaces, scuttling around like zippy bugs, covering more terrain in 60 seconds than I thought possible. If I had a digital camera, I would have taken you a photo. Their fellow-worker was a sad sight comparatively. On his feet, tentatively wielding a weed-whacker and dressed in plain clothes, this normal guy would have been in great danger of being mowed over if not for the bright yellow safety vest with the reflective stripes he had tossed over his t-shirt.

I think the lawn mowers must be related to the garbage men, who have to have at least been army sergeants in a past life. I have never seen men hustle like these. It could just be that I’m from Chicago, where the road construction crews take turns on whose day it is to work and you still have 10 minutes to get your garbage to the can when the noise of the garbage truck first turns into your alley. Or, it could be that these are truly extraordinary fellows. I think, in all honesty, it is the latter! Their garbage truck sails down the road going at least 30 mph, not slowing at each house. The guys hanging on the back of the truck jump down already running, grab the black trash bags by the curb, swing them into the truck, and jump back on…all in one smooth motion. They alternate houses, so that one gets about 5 seconds breathing space while the other jumps down. The only way you could get a forgotten bag out to the curb in time to catch them is if you were a trained speed skater, because it takes them less than a minute to do a whole block. These guys have to be some of the strongest in the world, cause they do this all day, sometimes in over 100 degree heat. I just hope they’re being paid ENORMOUSLY well.

This is not, however, the reason I’m feeling so bright and cheery today. Sally and I did our normal morning walk, but decided to go through another section of our freedom booklet afterward. With coffee in our cups and one of the prettiest rooms in the world to curl up in, we opened to the chapter we thought we’d left off at. There, staring me in the face, was the very scripture the Lord had shown me yesterday…

“…we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Rom 5:3-5

It had taken me some hours to move from the reality of tribulations into the act of perseverance. (In the meantime I almost gave up on the novel I’m currently working on.) I flipped pretty quickly to John 16 and Jesus’ assurance that I’d for sure have tribulation, but to “be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Tribulation, it turns out, means: stress, pressure, anguish, adversity, crushing, squashing, squeezing, etc. And I’d thought it meant persecution! This is the perfect word to describe my current state, and let me tell you, it feels good to have God tell you exactly where you are. I’m not crazy. The pressures I’ve been feeling are not only real, they’re predicted. And they’re not only predicted, they’re useful (to produce better things like perseverance and character and hope). And they’re not only useful, they’re already overcome by Jesus. And for all these reasons, I should actually glory in them. Um, recently, I think I’ve been wallowing in them instead.

So I shared all this with Sally, and we threw back our heads (at least I did—there was a very comfy, pillowish couch cushion behind it) and thanked God for His Word and His realities. Which, of course, turned into repenting to God for our own wallowing and self-pity. And I’m left with the understanding that Jesus HAS overcome all the tribulations I’m facing or will face in this world, and that my job is to rejoice in them to the same extent that I’m letting Him create the purified, lasting things in me by my journey through them.

So…the KC garbage men are the strongest in the world, and KC-bound Amy is going to pick up her tribulations as well. They’ll be tossed into the truck and squashed, but in the process, they’re building a pretty strong spirit into me! And for that I thank the Lord. I left Sally’s house and found an almost perfect day outside…cool air, hot sun. The world is breathable today, and I’m determined to spend a lot of that breath singing to God about how good He is (and NOT giving up on my novel!).

…oh, by the way, I discovered (no, Lizzie introduced me to) a musician whose lyrics ring in my soul. You’ll want to check it out… This is Lizzie and me enjoying his small outdoor show on the most beautiful farmland I’ve ever seen, just after the sun set…

1 comment:

Anna Peterson said...

Dearest Amy! That is the very same Scripture He was telling me today, and I think I may need to read your writings on it over again, just so that I get more encouraged! What a great thing! Those trials really do produce great things in us - hope being one of them. :) Right before those verses you listed it says, "and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God." That verse whacked me one day (in a good way)because we get to spend our lives in hope of knowing more of the glory of God - His nature and character. How fun!

and I think that garbage men do get paid a very good amount...