At our previous residence, we had to remove several trees in the backyard, which allowed us to open it up a bit. Shortly thereafter, we installed sod where there was no grass previously. Within a few days, we knew we had our work cut out for us. The sod was yellowing due to lack of water during the hot summer months. Overall the grass in my entire backyard left much to be desired, aesthetically-speaking—whereas, the grass on the other side of the fence was much greener (as you can see in the picture).
That’s a fact.
On my side of the fence there was much work to be done. Whenever I watered the dry crisp grass clinging for dear life, I had a full view of the lush green grass just beyond the fence. Rather than to bemoan my lot in life, I felt inspired. My neighbors cultivated their yard for ten plus years. They invested the money and time to bring forth the results. Likewise, I recognized the invitation within this moment to apply the hard work to make the grass lush and greener on my side of the fence.
However this isn’t really just about grass.
It’s about our lot in life. Does it appear that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence in your life? Are your siblings ahead of you in the game of life? Have your childhood friends surpassed your career accomplishments like a jackrabbit speeding pass the tortoise? What about your former classmates from school? What about the neighbor who always has a shiny new toy parked in the driveway while your clunker is about to give up the ghost?
First, stop the comparison game. Rejoice with those who appear to have greener grass than you: acknowledge their success; celebrate their milestones; honor them from the heart.
Some of you cringed when you read that.
Does not Scripture declare that the Good Shepherd “makes me lie down in green pastures” (Psalm 23:2, NIV)? Sometimes our not so green grass is actually the “green pastures” that Christ the Shepherd leads us to.
Sometimes the dry, crisp lot that the Lord leads us to is the exact place we need to be in this season of life. Not to abject us to despair; not to punish us for past failures; or to insidiously torment us with what we could never do in life. Instead, the Father desires to conform us to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). It is the opportunity to meet the “God of hope” in the midst of our seemingly hopeless lot. He tests our heart to see if we can genuinely rejoice with those who have the greener lot for all to see. Can you genuinely celebrate others when they do the very thing you dream of that appears to be out of your reach?
Recently a friend shared a remarkable story. He received an unexpected promotion at work that was clearly a display of God’s favor. The fact that he received this specific type of promotion with less than two years of employment was unheard of at this particular Fortune 100 company. When announced, news spread quickly among his peers. The next morning he received an unexpected gift package at his doorstep celebrating this promotion from a fellow team member. Later in conversation with this peer, my friend was deeply touched by how his co-worker genuinely celebrated his accomplishment; even when this peer was personally disappointed that he was overlooked for this promotion in spite of ongoing stellar performance.
My friend took note of this man’s actions that spoke loudly to his heart. He wondered, Would I be able to lay down my disappointment in order to celebrate someone else?” We should certainly all aspire to celebrate others even when they earn the very thing that we so intensely desire, but do not have.
Are you willing to celebrate others even when your own grass seems to be withering away?
Be encouraged. God is not done with you (Philippians 1:6). Allow the green grass on the other side of the fence to inspire you to become more Christlike in obedience to the call of God on your life. Embrace the cross even in the midst of your dry, crisp—and in some cases, brownish-yellow—grass. Remember Romans 15:13 declares: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.