In some regions of our world, a foot of snowfall in midwinter is just another normal day. In some areas, it’s a more notable event, but life goes on in the midst of it. In America’s Southern states, a foot of snow is quite another matter. Here in Little Rock, the mere THREAT of snowfall is sufficient to cancel schools and civic events. I’m not exaggerating, folks—it happened here last week.
Native Arkansans, like most southerners, are inherently petrified of snow. I think that it may be an actual allergic reaction, since the very presence of a single snowflake can cause people to wheeze, buy excessive qualtities of bread and milk, and start driving into each other’s cars, even on dry pavement. Imagine how looney people became last week when we were dumped on to the tune of 12 inches! Life as we know it ceased to be.
At the first snowflake, every employer in town hurriedly sent their people home. Due to factors unknown, virtually every driver on the road suddenly forgot how to drive—a particularly nasty problem, because virtually every driver in town was on the road, heading to the grocery store to buy those “panic rations” and emergency supplies. The fact that the local highway departments don’t know what to do when it snows doesn’t help much—sometimes it seems that they just sit back and say “yea, boy, that’s snow alright!”
Anyone who’s spent the winter in snow country finds the whole scenario entertaining, and perhaps a bit annoying. I have to admit that even I was getting a little peeved when, three days after “the big blizzard,” I attempted to visit my local neighborhood grocery store only to find it closed because of inclement weather. Honestly—it wasn’t THAT bad, and it hadn’t snowed in three days!
I was traveling through my neighborhood a couple of days after the big storm, when I saw a classic moment in Southern snow handling. At a home down the street, the lady of the house apparently wanted to clear her driveway and sidewalk of the white stuff. She proceeded to use what must have seemed to her like an appropriate tool—a garden rake. Yes, you read it right—the lady was out in her driveway, RAKING the snow.
If you’ve lived where snow is a regular winter occurrence, you know the value of good snow shovel, and you can see the futility of trying to rake snow from your driveway. In real snow country, a snow shovel is the low end of snow tools. Lots of folks have four wheel drive vehicles with snow plows mounted, and even more have gasoline-powered “snow throwers” that can cut through a foot of snow like a hot knife through butter, and then toss it to the side with authority—and relatively little operator effort. Raking that same snowy driveway will only generate a snow-covered driveway with little rake lines. Rake that snow all you want, it’s not going anywhere until you address it with the right tool.
As silly as raking snow may seem, it’s not unlike church folks doing God-type things with Man-type methods and means. I recently heard a speaker comment that it’s amazing how many churches in America have accomplished so much without God’s participation. It was a comment that stung a little, but that wasn’t too far off center. We do a lot of things in the name of God that He has no part in at all. We do even more things that He’d like to be involved in, if only we’d get out of the way and let Him. There are yet more things that He’d like to do in and through the church, but they’re things that we don’t want to do, so we set them aside.
Imagine what might happen if we were to step aside and let God do everything He wants to do in and through us. If the typical church doing typical church stuff is like the lady raking snow, a church allowing God to do everything He wants to do in and through that church would be like a big snow-thrower that clears the entire driveway in a single pass.
What tool would you rather use—a rake or a snowthrower?