- Note: This blog post is revised from my previous blog site.
Several years ago, I purchased a push mower to mow the lawn at a small house we used for our homeless ministry. I loved mowing that little lawn, not because I am (as some would say) a masochist, but because it gave me an opportunity to pray.
Few people understood my choice of a push mower over an electric or gas mower, and even more folks tried to convince me to use a leaf blower instead of sweeping with a broom. What they may not have known, is the push mower and broom were my prayer tools for the ministry. Each time I mowed the lawn or swept the porch, I prayed for our guests, volunteers and the ministry as a whole.
I prayed and fussed at God about comfortable Christians who did not want to be bothered by homeless individuals, or the rich business owner who proudly announced she removed a faucet from her business so “the homeless” could not wash their hands or get a drink of water. I am quite certain the lawn was much shorter on the days I offered these prayers of lament.
Now that I am retired, I still use a push mower and a broom. As I swept and prayed this morning, I realized how much I missed serving our homeless guests. I questioned what good I was doing. How am I being of service?” Just as I was waiting for a response, a former homeless guest stopped by to pick up some oranges and lemons. She had several items in her car that she needed to store somewhere. Her voice trailed off and she paused for a long while before she told me she hoped to sell some of the items because she needed the money for her upcoming chemo treatments. She also needed a ride to her doctor’s appointment next week because she had been feeling too sick to drive that far.
The answer to my prayer was standing right there in front of me, her pure blue eyes brimming with tears. I offered, “I can store your items and take you to the doctor next week.”
Her relief and gratitude was evident. She quickly turned to a cherished cardboard box in the back of her car. As she carefully handed me the box, she said, “I want you to have these porcelain dolls for your grandbabies. Some day they may be of real value and your grandchildren can afford to buy a house to live in.”
I lifted the cover of the box and ran my finger along the delicate porcelain features of the doll’s sweet face and thought of my granddaughters. I had known my friend for almost sixteen years. All she ever really wanted was a house to live in. Even in this time of deep grief and personal need, my friend was thinking of someone else. Grace. She had what I was longing for. I hugged her and let her know what time I would pick her up for her appointment next week.
For twelve years, I worked in a ministry that was part of my DNA. I served our homeless guests in a variety of ways and loved every minute of it. I was in fact, as one pastor reminded me, a “backyard missionary.” Today I mow my backyard with my push mower and sweep up the grass, and realize I can still be of service because I am an “every day missionary.” God will still use me every day. I just need to pray my favorite push mower prayer, “Here I am Lord, send me.”