Ice and Ministry

On Christmas Day we had a wintry mix of rain and lots of snow, and then numbing cold. So the streets froze solid in a washboard style, or more like cross-country skiing -- each side street has two deep ruts to drive in, and if you meet a car you have to jump out of the rut and go to the side so it can pass. It has been this way for a month now. Today it is raining, and the ruts are getting a little shallower, but there are still inches of street ice near every sidewalk entrance to the church.

I put on my rain gear and went out a bit ago to see what I could do. I chopped ice, I scooped ice, I threw around the water. It feels good to work physically sometimes, even though my right arm doesn't work quite like it used to. I scooped and chopped, and then I noticed that water was running right in to fill where the ice had been. When it freezes tonight it will freeze solid, and nothing will have changed.

I thought, "Well, this is a lot like ministry. You chop, you scoop, you try to make a safe path for folks, you try to make a difference, and sometimes the water just rushes right back in and freezes solid again." So often you can't see that anything was accomplished at all except a sore shoulder and wet feet.

But it is the work I do, that I love to do, and people voluntarily give money to the church in part to pay me for it (the ministry, not the ice-chopping,) so apparently it is deemed necessary.

Of course I must mention that a layperson happened by and grabbed a shovel to help. We kept saying to one another, "You should go in. You shouldn't be doing this. We aren't getting anywhere." But we kept at it for half an hour or so, catching up on various things as we worked. Finally, soaked and a little sore, we quit, and put the shovels away.

And that's sort of how it all is, really.

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