This winter the snow in North Dakota has been relentless. Every week since Christmas we have gotten some measurable snow. It has come like clock-work. Coupled with the extreme cold temperatures, the snow continues to pile up. Currently there is between 2-3 feet of snow in my backyard, with drifts that are considerably higher. The snow is now taller than our dog, so I have had to dig a path for him to be able to get out into the yard to do his business. Several days ago, I extended his path to give him a little more space. By last night that path has been completely filled in.
I have learned that it is essential to stay on top of clearing the snow off of my driveway. If I do not get out and clear it right away, it settles and becomes like concrete. This is especially true if we drive on the snow before I have a change to plow. At the beginning of the season, I did a good job of keeping the driveway clean down to the pavement. Unfortunately, my driveway is now covered with a significant layer of hard-packed snow. This is especially true at the end of our driveway where the city snowplow has deposited their ample contribution. At this point in the season, my snowblower is only able to skim off the very top layer of new snow. With each snowfall, the hard-packed layer at the bottom grows a little thicker. I am hopeful that it will disappear before August.
My neighbor, on the other hand, has a pristine driveway, with only a hint of snow on it. How can this be? The answer is that he is fanatical about cleaning off his driveway. As the very first flakes have settled onto the concrete, you can expect to hear the now familiar sound of a snow shovel scraping along the surface. Even as the snow continue to fall, my neighbor continues to wage his relentless battle. Consequently, he is the only one in our neighborhood who has a genuinely clean driveway. I can imagine that people drive by his house just to admire the clean surface that has long ago disappeared at their house.
On our journey of faith as followers of Christ, we cannot avoid the spiritual snowfalls that routinely come our way. We live in a fallen world that will constantly assail us. But we do not have to let those things pile up. Like my neighbor, we need to be diligent about digging out as quickly as possible.
There are many things in life that can pile up on us if we are not careful. Left unchecked, these things can settle in and become even harder to deal with. Over time, they can form a hard layer around our soul. Anxiety can settle into fear. A perceived hurt can settle into bitterness. An unguarded thought about what others have can settle into envy. Once these things have solidified in our soul, they become resistant to change. It is not impossible to dislodge them, but it is extremely difficult. If we are not careful, negative things can build up to the point where they immobilize us. Instead of letting them pile up, we need to persistently dig our way out.
Writing to the church in Ephesus, Paul instructed them to deal with things in a timely fashion.
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. "In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:25-32)
All of us have things in our lives that we have not adequately dealt with. They have become like the hard-packed layer of snow on my driveway. They can be removed, but it will take hard work to dislodge them. Fortunately, we do not have to do this alone. If we will cooperate with the Holy Spirit, He will melt the hard layer from around our heart. Like the sun in the spring, He can melt away even the most hard-packed ice from our soul.
"Come now, let us reason together,"
says the Lord.
"Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool.
There will be more snow to come this winter. My snowblower is gassed up and ready to tackle what may come. I am determined to keep the snow at bay. There will be many challenges that will come our way on this journey of faith. When they dump on us, we need to be ready to do battle. Whatever comes, with God’s help, we can dig out, if we don’t give up.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.