These are the thoughts I had while raking leaves yesterday...
I like raking leaves. It is a repetitive, physical task. It is productive. It gets my body moving, yet gives me time to think. I really should exercise more.

Look at these huge piles of leaves I have! I've made so much progress! I can't believe these were scattered all over just an hour ago! [I survey the rest of the front yard] But have I made any progress? Broken leaves are still spread all over the yard. Yes, I see my large pile, and, yes, I see the areas I have yet to rake- how blanketed the grass is under the tree, compared to the areas I have raked- but the areas I have spent the last hour and a half raking don't look pristine. Is my effort for naught?

[I began to relate this to the message I had heard earlier in the day, on disciplines.] Our work never is done, though, is it? When I continue to look out in the yard, and see even more leaves to rake, even in areas I've already worked on, I am discouraged. Really discouraged. Like, I don't see the point in finishing. When I read the Bible or pray or work on whatever spiritual discipline it is, I see how far I still have to go- I see my failings and sinfulness and wrong motives, even in areas I've already worked on, and I wonder if it is worth it, with no end in sight.

I'll never be perfect. And neither will the lawn be completely free of leaves. Rather than looking out at the leaves left to go, while raking I would look back at the pi;e periodically. Look how far I've come! That six-foot-diameter pile was just moments ago strewn throughout the yard. I'm making progress! I don't have every little bit cleaned up, but I'm moving in the right direction. In the same way, when I look, rather at all my failings, but at the distance God has brought me and others in my life, I can be encouraged. There may still be dark places in my heart, but there is certainly a LOT more light. I won't obtain perfection- in my yard or my heart- but continuing to press on is the goal. I am, and always will be, unfinished, until heaven. And my yard? It will be unfinished, too.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
- Philippians 3:12-14

Now, anyone have any idea what to do with the piles of leaves?


Melissa said...

Jump in them! ;)

Joanna said...

Melissa- I know I raked up some poison ivy... you wanna go first? ;-)

Anonymous said...

It's past Halloween, but next year you could buy those cute little Jack-o-Lantern trashbags and fill them up to decorate the yard. I've thought of doing it, but have yet to take the initiative.

Lisa said...

My suggestion was going to be to compost it, but with the poison ivy in there, maybe not.

Joanna said...

Lisa - The "poison ivy" comment was there as an inside joke with Melissa & I. I thought I saw poison ivy in a bed under the willow tree, but I'm not sure if it got raked into one of the piles or not. Regardless, a couple of the piles are clean, and probably will end up in the compost pile, because I don't like the idea of bagging or burning them.

Anonymous - Indiana's leaves actually held on longer than usual this year, so we had nothing to rake pre-Halloween.


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