The Lawn Mower Man

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. –Galatians 6:9

In 1994, Alvin Straight, a resident of Laurens, Iowa, at age 73, decided to take a trip to visit his 80-year-old brother who had suffered a stroke. His brother lived 240 miles away in a small town in Wisconsin.

According to the Des Moines Register‘s account, “Straight didn’t trust public transportation and could not drive a car because he had limited vision and no driver’s license. So he decided to drive a 1966 John Deere (riding) mower to Wisconsin.

“On July 5, 1994, he loaded a 10-foot trailer with gasoline, food, clothes and camping equipment. He hitched it to the mower and started out from Laurens. The mower’s top speed was 5 mph, and the trip along back roads took nearly six weeks. Straight endured rainy weather and breakdowns.”

Still, Straight’s trip was a success. His persistence, commitment, and devotion had paid off. His goal was realized by reaching the destination. As a result, his story attracted media attention. He received requests to appear on both David Letterman and Jay Leno’s late-night television programs. And, in 1999, the movie, “Straight Story,” was released, recounting the lawn mower man’s journey.

I wonder how the world would be different if Christians everywhere demonstrated the same kind of persistence, commitment, and devotion that Straight demonstrated, in our serving others in Jesus’ name. Have you ever had dreams of how you would like to serve the Lord, but then determined that for some reason–perhaps the obstacles were too many or too great–the dream was abandoned? I know I have. I am certain that more lives would be influenced for Christ if we worried less about the practicalities of our dreams, and instead, spent more time acting on them courageously.

Today, may God give us courage and desire to serve Him with persistence, commitment, and devotion.

1. How does the “lawn mower man’s” story inspire you to be more persistent with your personal goals?

2. What actions would you take today to serve someone else in Jesus’ name, if you knew for sure that you would overcome any obstacles that stood in your way?

Hebrews 10:35-36; 2 Corinthians 8:10-12; Hebrews 12:1

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Jim Liebelt

Jim Liebelt

Jim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family. Jim has over 30 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, having served over the years as a pastor, author, consultant, mentor, trainer, college instructor, and speaker. Jim’s HomeWord culture blog also appears on and Jim and his wife Jenny live in Quincy, MA.

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