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“Backing Out of Life’s Garage!” Exodus 20:18-21 Key verse(s): 20:“Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning’.”


Graduating from a reel mower to a power mower, was a very big step in my life. I began cutting lawn with my father when I was a pre-teen. In those days it was common for every family to have a good, sturdy reel mower that worked solely on “boy” power. I can still remember ours. It was a Sears mower with green hub caps and bright red blades. I had watched my dad push this many times and felt quite privileged when he asked me to help him. When I was about eight or nine my dad purchased our first power mower. It was a reel mower as well but with this exception, it had an engine and it was self propelled. My dad still let me use the push mower to trim. But now, since he was able to cut the entire lawn in far less time and with far less effort, my duties became somewhat limited.


The day came, however, several years later when my dad decided it was time for me to graduate to the power mower. Since it was self-propelled he thought that an eleven-year-old ought to be able to control it. Although he was a bit concerned about my ability to turn it around after reaching the end of a row, he decided to let me try. But, before he was willing to turn control over to me, he embarked on a safety lesson I shall never forget. Strategically placing me in front of the mower but a safe distance away, he wedged a poplar stick about the size of a young boy’s finger between the blades. “Now watch this!” he summoned. As he turned the engine over and power reached those blades, they strained for but an instant and then snapped the twig with a crack. At that moment I could feel a sympathetic crack in my own index finger. And, of course, that is exactly what my dad had in mind. Needless to say, I developed a very healthy but real fear of that power mower. And, I must admit, it was with some trepidation that I first put my grip on those handle bars, vibrating with the power of those blades as they churned through the grass.


I feared the mower but I loved to mow the grass. That marriage of fear and love served me well throughout my lawn mowing days. The fear kept me from doing foolish things and the love enabled me to serve my father by cutting the grass. Finding a balance between the two is the critical issue.


Fear and love. God used his awesome power to impress the Children of Israel. They were impressed to the point of fear. God’s purpose, however, like my father’s, was to impress upon them the awesome power that could be their’s if they simply learned to respect it. When we keep in mind that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, that knowledge will guide us to an understanding of personal safety and freedom from our fears. However, without faith that we can do this, our fears will eventually consume us no matter what we do or how hard we try. The fear of the Lord becomes the love of the Lord when we trust that this love will empower us to be safe within Him. We simply can’t do it on our own. Even our best-laid plans are doomed to failure when our fears compel us to rely on ourselves.

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