Our home sits on a lot that slopes gently toward the lake in our back yard. As we considered the style of home we would construct on our ground, we realized that the natural incline provided us an ideal terrain for a porch deck to overlook the lake from a main level and also for a patio that could give us a great view of the water from a walk out basement. We built the house so that we could view the lake from any door or window on any level along the back side of our home.
Our neighbors to our right and to our left also have lots that slant toward the water. Where the lots converge, small indentations or valleys were created. To the natural eye, these small hills and dales create a naturally-flowing landscape. However, water from a good rain utilized the ground’s angles for another function. The small basins served as a natural conduit for excess water to collect from each lot and flow into the lake. Over the years and despite a thick coverage of grass, the basins have eroded to form two washed-out gullies.
Last week, my husband Dennis decided that the time had come to reinforce the water channels with new dirt. The depth of the ruts had begun to create difficulties as he cut the grass. The children had to jump the gaps while playing in the yard or risk a twisted ankle. Naturally occurring or not, the day arrived when he needed to fill up the washed-out places in our yard.
Borrowing a friend’s pick-up truck, Dennis brought in tons of topsoil. Dirt, although lying cost-free all around our yard, was not free when he went to a landscaper to acquire it. Dirt, although seemingly of inconsequential weight as it rests upon our lot, weighed a ton when scooped into and off the bed of the truck. Dirt, although effortlessly nestled into place throughout our yard, had to be moved from the truck to the ground through great effort.
After a half a day’s labor, my husband had successfully filled the eroded channels. He knew that the fresh beds of dirt would run off quickly unless he could get grass to grow and serve as ground cover to inhibit the erosion. He chose to purchase carpets of sod. So, again he borrowed the truck. Again, he paid for grass that freely grew in our yard; transported heavy rolls of grass that were seemingly weightless while growing on our lawn, and exerted great levels of energy to position the sod next to the grassy areas that grew effortlessly around the yard. After a full day of filling in the furrows and cramming full the crevasses, the ruts that had been formed throughout time were repaired and the back yard was restored to its original merit.
Dennis and I closed out the day by sitting on our porch deck swing and surveying both the lush lawn and the neighborhood pond. He talked about the labor of the day. I commented upon the benefit of his labors. We both agreed that untended ruts are a danger to all who traverse the landscape. In that vein, our conversations moved into a life lesson that we have both experienced and frequently observed in the lives of our congregants.
A Rut – now there’s a hole into which we all fall! Whether our holes are relational ruts, habitual ditches or emotional ravines, they need attention. When we allow the natural run off from the rainy seasons in our lives to produce channels and gorges in our thoughts, our souls or our hearts, we find ourselves too frequently stumbling in the unintended ruts. The good news is that the right soil and the right seed applied through a little extra effort can fill up the gaps. Jesus told his disciples to examine the soil of their hearts and to sow the good seed of the Word of God into their heart’s soil. He cautioned them to put in the effort of insuring that the seed took root and grew. Into this kind of heart, Jesus promised, good kingdom fruit of righteousness, peace and joy could grow. Today may just be the right day for you to begin repairing the ravines from the gully-washing experiences in your life.