Josephine has been a widow for almost as long as I have been alive. When the snows come, my custom is to grab a shovel and pluck my way six houses to the left to do her driveway and sidewalks. She is hard of hearing, so she never knows I have been there till after the fact. Then comes the fun part, when I get a phone call, and she can't seem to decide between scolding me and thanking me.
But shoveling is an activity not without its dangers. It starts out innocently enough, but an hour of solitude with a shovel is perfect campaigning weather for those who have an interest in your undoing. The pure pleasure of pleasing Josephine can be corrupted in a second into the not so pure pleasure of regarding yourself pleasing Josephine. The left hand should not know what the right hand is doing (Matthew 6:3), so this is to be resisted.
A verse came to mind as I scooped up another palette of white stuff:
"Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven" (Luke 10:20).
Quite right. What is the most wonderful thing of all? Not that I am able to impose order on the primordial chaos of Josephine's yard, but that my name is engraved on God's hands.
I once wrote an essay that consisted of the thoughts of a woman driving home from the supermarket. A friend of mine said it was the best illustration of total depravity he had ever encountered. (The piece was largely autobiographical.) At the time of that writing, it was the most I could do to document my wretched stream of consciousness. If I were to write it today, it would be a better word, because in recent years I have learned a thing or two about spiritual warfare. I have experience in "tak[ing] every thought captive to obey Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5), rather than just rolling over to Satan's every suggestion.
When engaged in the dangerous act of snow removal, I find that you can't go wrong repeating, "Thank you! Thank you! Thank you, Jesus!" with every scoop. I did a lot of that, with joy-for the health in my limbs; for my good, strong back; for special slant of sun at 3 o'clock in winter. There is nothing like it for deflecting the arrows of the Enemy. Because you never can be too careful when shoveling out Josephine.
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