Shoveling Snow--Lots of Snow

By David Thurman, Gospel Minutes,
vol 50, no. 4, January 26, 2001

My wife and I enjoy living in Colorado. We can see the mountains from our home. We love to ski and to hike in the beauty of the Rocky Mountains. Nothing is as beautiful, on first waking up, as the scene of a fresh blanket of snow on a crystal clear mountain morning.

But that snowfall has its drawbacks. Since our driveway faces north and gets no sun until May, we have to shovel that beautiful fresh snow as soon as possible to keep ice from forming on our driveway and sidewalks. So, each time the snow comes, one of us (usually me) has to get out and spend an hour or two clearing the concrete of snow. Shoveling snow has taught me some valuable lessons about sin.

Sin is Inevitable

Man shoveling snow from sidewalk I suppose if I really dislike shoveling snow I should move somewhere that gets no snow. If we lived in south Florida, we wouldn't even own a snow shovel. But we love the Rocky Mountains with the gorgeous scenery, deep blue sky, the sparkling streams, wildlife, etc. We just like the lifestyle we have here. So, we live with snow and the hassles it brings.

Sin is similar. If you are going to live in this world, you are going to face the problems that sin brings. Sin is inevitable, just like snow in Colorado. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). The truth about it is that, as long as you live in this world, you are going to sin. You are going to fall short of God's expectations for your life. You are sometimes going to give in to temptation, by weaknesses or by negligence, and make mistakes.

Sin, like snow in the mountains, is inevitable. You cannot live well enough, you cannot be good enough to avoid sin. Sin is going to enter your life. Sometimes you will choose to sin, other times you will fall into sin. You may even sin without realizing you have sinned. But you will sin. Every person must come to grips with the reality that he or she is guilty of wrong and that nothing he or she does will change the fact that sin is here and sin will be back.

Sin Looks Beautiful

Every time we get a snowfall without any wind, the snow looks wonderful. The snowflakes drop lazily from the sky. The snow piles up, creating lovely scenes right outside our window. When the sun comes back out, the whole image is stunning. Then, the shoveling begins, and what looked so pretty when it started, turns into a real chore that takes time, energy, and leaves many sore spots.

Snow covered valley in the Mountains Sin is just like that. It too looks beautiful when it all gets started. But it turns into something hard, and even painful once we have sinned. Make no mistake, sin looks beautiful. Sin appears to be lots of fun. "By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin" (Hebrews 11:24-25). God tells us that sin has its pleasures. But, it is passing pleasures. Just like snow that looks so lovely and then turns into back-aching work, so sin looks appealing and turns into life- changing pain.

I am sure Bathsheba looked good to King David (2 Samuel 11-12). I have little doubt David enjoyed the affair he carried on with another man's wife. But in the end, after he had her husband killed and the prophet of God forced David to face up to what he had done, David knew only heartache and pain from the whole experience. What looked beautiful going in turned into terrible suffering.

This is true with all sin, big or small. A little white lie turns into a mess when it is discovered. A little corner cut on the income taxes turns into a big mess when the audit comes. A little flirtation with a co-worker turns into a sordid affair that ruins a home and family. Sin always looks good when it gets started, but behind the beauty is nothing but pain and sorrow.

Sin Gets Worse if Unattended

We were out of town a few weeks back. We were unable to shovel the snow off of our driveway and sidewalk. Now, several weeks and many snowfalls later, we still have ice on our concrete. Once it froze in place, nothing short of breaking it with hammers (which can damage the concrete) will loosen it. Now, when I shovel the new snow, I have to work around the ice left over from previous snowfalls.

Sin is like this as well. The more you ignore it and leave it unattended, the worse it gets. After a while, you even stop noticing that you have sinned. The sin has become normal in your life. "Take care, brethren, lest there should be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart, in falling away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called `Today,' lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin" (Hebrews 3:12-13). God warns us that sin is deceitful. It will lure us with its beauty and then trap us with the power. Worse, we can become hardened to it. We can get so used to sin that we fall away from God.

This principle is not just true with "hardened sinners" but also with believers. Anytime we excuse our failings or rationalize our actions, we run the risk of letting the sin pile up and our hearts to be hardened. For some, it is holding a grudge. For still others, it is the simple art of missing worship assemblies, until no worship is left in their hearts. Sin is deceitful, it will harden into a way of life that will be full of pain and hardship. The saddest part is you and I can get used to living like that.

Deeper Sin is Harder

I have learned that if I am going to get the snow shoveled in a reasonable time and without too many aches and pains, I need to get at it as soon as I can. The deeper the snow, the harder it is to move it with a shovel. When the snow falls fast and wet, it can take twice as much time and leave twice as many sore muscles to clear off the same amount of concrete. Deeper snow is harder to remove.

The deeper you go into sin, the harder it is to extricate yourself from the lifestyle you have chosen. For instance, no one wakes up one day and decides to become a drug addict or an alcoholic. Yet, countless thousands are caught up in the web of those sins and find it incredibly difficult to get out. The deeper you go into sin, the harder it is to break loose. Eventually, you can get in so deep it looks impossible. "For if after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment delivered to them. It has happened to them according to the true proverb, `A dog returns to its own vomit,' and `A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire'" (2 Peter 2:20-22). These believers had gotten in so deep they left Christ behind and returned to the lifestyles of sin they were accustomed to. Deeper sin is harder to deal with.

Face the Other Way

As I shoveled my snow this morning, I envied my neighbor. He too had to shovel his driveway and sidewalk, but his faces the south and gets sun all day. Right now, only a few hours after cleaning off his concrete, it is dry. Mine, still in the shade, is covered with the remnants of my shoveling this morning and has patches of ice of varying thickness all over it. The solution: I need a drive that faces the other way.

I cannot turn my house around and face the other way. But I can turn my life around and face the other way. All of us sin, all of us have to shovel away the sin that comes into our lives. But this process is so much easier if we face the right way to begin with. Turn your life back toward God.

No matter how deep the snow, no matter how thick the ice, the warmth of God's love will melt it. You may be caught up in deep sin, you may be struggling with the consequences of sin. But God will forgive you, will remove the sin, will melt the pain, if you will face Him and turn from your sin. That is why God tells us, "Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, `Brethren, what shall we do?' And Peter said to them, `Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit'" (Acts 2:37-39). Turn back to God, repenting of your sin. Let Him cleanse you in the waters of baptism. Shovel the sin out of your life today.

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