Turf wars, the ground strikes back


I have once again found myself engaged in an ongoing struggle with one of nature’s own little rototillers, namely a small fellow called “scalopus aquaticus”… or in laymen’s terms, a ground mole! Recent developments have caused me some concern after an incident that began this past Saturday. As I sat early on my porch swing and sipped on some delicious dark roast coffee I noticed the ground moving directly in the front yard. I moved quickly to retrieve a shovel and in short order I unearthed the culprit and quickly dispatched him! Score one for Tim! (Sorry PETA, deal with it) To quote Hans Solo, “Great, kid, don’t get cocky!” The concern arose when Monday morning I awoke to not one, but two large mole hills directly behind my porch swing which eerily seemed to say… we’ve got our eyes on you! I’m almost afraid to walk across the yard for the fear of being swallowed up in a sinkhole the size of my SUV. I’ve tried killing all the grubs in my yard, “Is that possible?” I’ve tried mothballs… No moths, but I still got moles! I even used Mole-B-Gone I think it was called. Some kind of poison pellets that I injected into the ground, but alas, no luck. I’m getting so desperate I’ve considered staking out a cat! I’ve read that cats are good mole-hunters, though it seems more of a game, as moles I assume, taste unpleasant and yet whack a mole was such a success… go figure! Now if you want a few laughs just venture through the Internet and you will find an incredible assortment of supposed solutions to the aforementioned turf war. Ironically, I just today read that a good gardener’s hard work, mulching, irrigating, keeping a compost pile can actually ATTRACT moles by providing plenty of worms, grubs etc. for them to eat! E -GADS, you mean I have brought this all on myself? I guess it could be worse— perhaps armadillos or some such thing.

In the end, it occurs to me that dealing unsuccessfully with ground moles is one thing—dealing unsuccessfully with life is quite another. So, what of spiritual landscapes and for that matter, the pests that can invade a beautiful relationship between a man and his God? Listen to the wise counsel of the writer to the Hebrew believers… “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Notice the areas of concern for the writer here. Lay aside every weight. In other words, get rid of the heavy things we really don’t need to be carrying. Just as physical weights can unnecessarily burden our journey so the unneeded spiritual and emotional baggage we are tempted to hang on to can not only slow us down but cause us to coast to a dangerous stop. And what about this sin thing the writer eludes to here? Sin can be defined clearly as an immoral act considered to be a transgression against divine law. Wait? You mean to tell me that doing my own thing my own way regardless of whether I believe God is real or not can be a sin? Yep, that’s what I’m saying—well, not me but more importantly the scriptures say that. Sin is mentioned hundreds of times in the Bible, starting with the “original” sin when Adam and Eve ate of the tree of knowledge. Often it seems as if sin is simply the violation of any of God’s laws, including the Ten Commandments. The good news in all of this is that, once we recognize ourselves as sinners, we need only to repent and embrace Jesus to be forgiven. Jesus can forgive us because he died and rose again three days later in victory over sin and death. The writer also mentions the need to run with patience the race set before us. Our particular track may be different in life; however, the advice is timeless. Lay aside anything that slows you down or is contrary to the will of God, and journey forward with patience and trust in God. Don’t allow even the littlest of things, or yard critters to hinder your path!

I remember reading of a man who actually walked from New York City to San Francisco mentioned a rather surprising difficulty when asked to tell of his biggest hurdle. He said that the toughest part of the trip wasn’t traversing the steep slopes of the mountains or crossing hot, dry, barren stretches of desert. Instead, he said, “The thing that came the closest to defeating me was the sand in my shoes.” So allow me, if you will, to encourage each of us to be aware of the influence that sin can, if allowed, have on our life and our eternity. Yield to God and His marvelous plan for your life. Until next time, Praise the Lord and pass the Mole traps!

Tim Throckmorton is the former Executive Pastor of the Plymouth Heights Church of the Nazarene in Franklin Furnace Ohio and the Portsmouth First Church of the Nazarene in Franklin Furnace, Ohio. He is currently the Senior Pastor at Crossroads Church in Circleville, Ohio.