Grass grows real tall when you don’t cut it.
In mid August, my garden tractor simply stopped moving. Everything was running fine up until that moment. I was coming around a tree when I had to stop and readjust the turning radius. Strangely, when I put it back into gear again to move forward, it didn’t.
The motor was still running.
The cutting blades were still spinning.
But it wasn’t moving. Weird. Annoyed, I shut off the cutting blades, and turned off the tractor. Behind me, lying in the grass was a severed long black drive belt. And that was that. My grass cutting adventure came to an abrupt end. I put the gearbox into neutral and pushed the tractor across our property and into the garage. I didn’t even look to the side where the push mower sat with it’s hopeful puppy dog “eyes”. I was not about to do it by hand.
This came back to haunt me in the weeks that followed before the new belt was shipped to the house. The grass just kept on growing. It was almost like it took advantage of the situation. On top of this, it rained quite a lot for August. Normally, the grass around here slows down to withstand the heat of the summer. Not this year. It seemed to rain more because my drive belt was missing.
It got to the point where the grass waved mockingly at me with the slightest gust of wind. So I ventured out one recent Saturday afternoon with the push mower and my earphones. I burned through several podcast sermons walking back and forth behind the push mower. I couldn’t cut it all, keeping to around the house and over the septic bed where it always seems to grow the fastest. I bought me some time.
Finally, the new belt came the week after, and I removed the cutting deck to install the new belt. I had looked up the diagram on the internet before attempting the replacement. I learned that the belt wraps around the main flywheel that drops directly from the motor. It then runs straight back around another large wheel connected to the transaxle, which gives power to the rear tires. Then the belt heads back towards the flywheel again, weaving though a series of pulleys along the way. Without this belt, the motor cannot drive the tires, and the tractor cannot move forward. The flywheel spins regardless, but it cannot transfer its power and energy without the belt. It connects all the moving parts together.
As I finished installing the new belt, I noticed the very same diagram on the underside of the tractor. Figures. It was there the whole time, I just never saw it before. It was at that moment the connection came to me. It reminds me of something Jesus said,
“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit.
For apart from me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5
Jesus is like the flywheel of my tractor. He is there with us, with strength (grace) and energy (love). Always “spinning”, His life is available to us. But to benefit from it, we need to be connected to Him. How do we do this? Faith is our drive belt. Faith connects us to a life in Christ. Faith weaves all through our life, touching and connecting all moving parts.
There are times in life where we hum along swimmingly until something happens, something breaks which forces us to stop. We are dead in our tracks. Whatever we had in our life to keep us going suddenly no longer works. Faith connects us back to the flywheel that is Jesus to keep us connected to Him. We may not always be aware of His presence, but like the diagram under the tractor, His image is imprinted on our beings.
It is not that we take advantage of Jesus, or that we use Him like a crisis hotline. He invites us into relationship with Him. We with Him, and he with us. It goes both ways. Our connection, or “remaining” in Jesus is meant for the long term. The branch in His analogy is a conduit. Fruit is the result, and the branch is the producer, but the life, energy and nutrients required to grow the fruit comes from the vine. It is a working relationship, which in due season, yields something wonderful. Apart from Jesus we can do nothing that even comes close.
Jesus spins on. Are you tethered?