One cold, snowy day in Northern Ohio at the camp where I worked, I shoveled the sidewalks. There are a lot of sidewalks at camp! The snow was about 4 inches thick but very light and fluffy so it was not very difficult, but it was hard work. While I was shoveling it began snowing again; big fluffy flakes gently falling. It did not take long for the sidewalks to get recovered in a dusting of snow. But that was okay, because it is much easier to keep periodically shoveling a walk than it is to wait until there are 6 inches accumulated!

Continued shoveling keeps the edges of the sidewalk visible, which makes it easier to see where to shovel the next time. If I wait until no snow is in the forecast before I even attempt to shovel, it is much more back-breaking and I may not have any indication where the sidewalk actually is located.

I had read Jeremiah 29:11 that morning and had been focusing on the word hope. I had turned in my resignation a few months before, and I had no idea what God had planned for me once I left camp ministry, which caused me some anxiety. I prayed as I shoveled, “Show me your path, God. Clear the way. Give me hope.”

Then I realized that seeking God’s direction is a lot like shoveling a sidewalk. If I patiently persevere in prayer, asking God for wisdom and discernment, I essentially am keeping the “path” cleared. Yes, I may have to keep asking for clarity, and the path may get covered up a bit with more questions or wait time, but with continued prayerful clearing, the edges of my journey remain visible, which means I at least know the direction I’m headed. And continuing the dialogue with God through that prayerful process, means I will not be overwhelmed and buried by life’s circumstances or by fear of the unknown.

Hope keeps me persistently shoveling sidewalks even while the snow is falling. And, hope keeps me prayerfully seeking God’s guidance, even when I am not sure what experiences each day may bring or where God may lead next. 

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Rm 5:1-5.

I’m praying for you.

Pastor Deb