An elderly man steadily works in his backyard, raking up some of autumn’s harvest of red maple leaves. The quiet, afternoon air is punctuated by angry and upset mumbling coming from the neighbor’s yard.
Walking over to the fence, the former teacher listens while a much younger man unsuccessfully tries to start up his lawn mower. The neighbor, in his late twenties, has been facing extra pressure and longer hours at the small business he operates.
Pausing and then sending some words of encouragement over the fence, the quiet man offers some advice, “Does the mower need a new spark plug?”
A quick reply comes back, “I never thought of that.”
The conversation continues back and forth for a few minutes. The young man confesses his frustration at work has brought a heavy burden on him as well as his family. He is married with a young daughter.
The wise neighbor adds some gems of wisdom before they both go back to their separate chores, “Hang in there. God’s using these difficult days to prepare you for a more successful tomorrow. He’s equipping you with tools which will help you to bear fruit.”
The young man replies back, “Thanks. I appreciate your advice as well as your testament from the Lord.”
With the rake in his hand, the elderly man prepares to step away from the fence, but he returns and offers a prayer for the young man, “God, grant Tim the serenity to accept the things he cannot change, the courage to change the things he can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Both men say their final words, and return to their respective yard work.
As the retired teacher continues to rake more of the stubborn leaves into a series of small piles, he hears the lawn mower start up with a roar. Obviously, the young man has changed the mower’s spark plug, and it is now running as it should.
At the same time, Tim feels the spark of God’s Word bringing him patience and encouragement for today as well as for tomorrow.
From 2 Peter 1:5-7: “For this very reason, you must make every effort to support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness, and godliness with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love.”