As I sit to write this post, snow is yet again on my mind. It feels that I have shoveled some amount of snow every day for a month. I clear the sidewalks, walkways and driveways at the house and at the church every morning. The next morning, I wake to new-fallen snow and do the same thing: shovel. As I scoop and throw the winter’s precipitation, I contemplate why I am so fastidious about clearing the pathways. Part of my rationale is safety: I don’t want anyone to be unnecessarily hurt. Another answer is propriety: I don’t want the house or the church to incur a fine because the snow removal wasn’t done. But I think the biggest reason I shovel the snow is hope.
Strange as it sounds, my motivation for these sore muscles is hope; the hope of strength, the hope of help and the hope of spring. Shoveling affirms my hope that I am still able to accomplish what I could when I was younger, albeit slower and with more deliberation. Shoveling affirms my hope that others will assist me in the task at hand, be it a child, a neighbor or a congregant. Shoveling affirms my hope that warmer weather will arrive and every shovelful brings closer the change of seasons.
Sometimes, thankfully few times, ministry is like shoveling. It is, on occasion, like doing the same thing over and over again without any real progress. Each week a message is preached and the pathway is made clear only for the next Sunday to roll around and the pathway needs to be cleared again. A visit is made and obstacles are removed, only to reappear with the next storm of life. There is comfort, for me anyway, that the hope in shoveling and the hope in ministry have striking similarities.
Ministry also has the hope of strength, the hope of help and the hope of spring. Philippians 4:13 states: “I can do all this through him who gives me strength”; ministry reminds me that God will enable me to accomplish what he desires. Ecclesiastes 4:12 states: “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves [and] a cord of three strands is not quickly broken”; ministry reminds me that God will provide that assistance to those who may be overwhelmed alone. Revelation 21:4 states: “‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes [and] there will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away”; ministry reminds me that a day is coming when the toils and troubles of today will no longer exist.
Allow me to take this break from shoveling to share with you my hope. It is not pointless or fruitless. It is not unnecessary or unnoticed. Everything that is done to glorify God and further His gospel is important and is worth repeating until the day of His appearing. But until then, keep making the way clear.
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all 2 Corinthians 4:17 (NIV)