~by Brenda Weaver
“In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” I Thessalonians 5:18
Another shovelful of snow landed on my growing pile. A new patch of sidewalk emerged. Scrape—thud. I took another stab at the crusted six-inch pile of heavy snow. My thrill at the arrival of two snowfalls in three days abated a bit. But as twilight settled over our neighborhood, I couldn’t help but feel thankful. Pausing for a rest, I noted God had pulled back a corner of the snow-gray sky to reveal the sun lowering amid a few clumps of cloud. I took a deep breath of cold, fresh air and wiggled my chilled toes inside the soft lining of boots. Through the kitchen window I could see my teenage daughter; she was making stromboli for supper. The big breath I’d taken escaped my lungs as a sigh. I had much to be grateful for.
Around me I heard the whine of at least three snow blowers. I heard the scrape of other shovels. In the distance a tractor hummed with snow removal. The quiet stillness of snowfall had evaporated with the last falling flakes; dig out time had come to our small village. On my frequent rests I noted how quickly the paths and roadways appeared when a machine was involved. I was enjoying shoveling again because snow arrived with the calendar - just days away from the block marked “First Day of Winter.” But I had to admit the amount of shoveling I had to do, combined with that icy crust hiding between two layers of soft snow, daunted me. I sighed again, this time not with satisfaction. That nasty layer of crust wasn’t exactly the pleasant icing between two mounds of soft whoopie pie! About the time I really started feeling sorry for myself (Where had my thankfulness gone?) my son’s truck made a calculated slide into the parking lot and I heard his cheery voice. “Why don’t you let your son do that?” I smiled.
“Yes, if only.” I didn’t have to remind him he’d been away all afternoon taking engagement photos in the new snow. No wonder his usually cheerful voice was even more cheerful!
Very soon he joined me in shoveling, causing my thoughts to turn to thankfulness again. Briefly. A few shovelfuls later I thought about next year, when this son would be shoveling snow for his new bride. I fought the icy crusting on the sidewalk as some old crusting on the side of my heart announced, life isn’t fair. Here I am a widow and my shoveling time is about to increase greatly. Things could be much worse I told myself. And shoveling snow is enjoyable to me.
“In everything give thanks.” The verse drifted into mind, softening the fairness crust in my heart. I do not have to give thanks FOR everything, rather IN everything. So right there on the half shoveled sidewalk, IN the snow I thanked God for some things.
I didn’t thank Him for the cancer that stole my husband away before his shoveling days were exhausted. I thanked Him that in this snow, and in this season of my life, I still have much to be grateful for.
Boots. Gloves. Shovels. A daughter making supper. A son who shovels cheerfully. A beautiful sky. Crisp, fresh air. Neighbors who wave, and who dig or blow their way out of another snowfall, alongside me. Neighbors who sometimes sneak over to do some of my snow removal. (I spied two of you today. Thank you for clearing our street and helping with my shoveling at our church next door!) The ability to shovel. The feeling of accomplishment. Exercise. And a husband in heaven.
What better way to start the New Year? We don’t have to thank God for the national debt piling up faster than winter snows. Or for the condition of a country whose animals are valued more highly, protected more fiercely, than unborn human life. No, we don’t have to thank Him for the circumstances that are bound to bring His sovereign judgment. But in these times, in these circumstances, we can thank God for many things. His mercy. His forgiveness. His justice. His sovereign oversight. His presence.
Ah yes, His presence. Reminds me of another verse that slips into mind quite often recently. “…in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” Psalm 16:11.
Scrape—thud. Swoosh. That old fairness crust is tossed aside.
While we used to shovel snow together, one of us is enjoying the pleasures at the right hand of God! (!!!) And one of us can find fullness of joy in His presence while shoveling snow.
Oh, THANK YOU, God!
Prayer for today:
Have mercy on us when we complain and fret about everything from snow, to the condition of our country, to life in its unfairness. Forgive us for not trusting You, for not recognizing Your goodness to us—yes, even in the unfair circumstances of life.
Help us, Lord, to enter the New Year, with all its uncertainties, in an attitude of thanksgiving. Because thanking You brings us close to You, and in Your presence is fullness of joy! And at thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore!