Before we went out of town the weekend before New Year’s, I was clearing the driveway to avoid having the snow turn into hard ice while we were gone. The snow was thick, but our driveway slopes downhill and it didn’t take too long. I was just in position to congratulate myself on finishing well within the time I had available so that we could leave and get to Cincinnati in plenty of time for the baby shower.
Then I happened to think about the elderly lady next door. Did her driveway need shoveling? Surely not! Our neighbor behind us has his plower plow her driveway too.
But it had snowed another inch or two.
She’ll be fine!
But it would only take a few minutes.
I went over and did her driveway. I came halfway to getting away unseen, but Mrs. Conner found me and thanked me far beyond what I deserved.
With my good deed firmly out of the way, I headed back to the van. At least now I could feel good about myself…
But what about Mr. Duke, the 65-year-old man on the other side of us, not as strong as he used to be and taking care of his mother?
65 isn’t old! Wouldn’t my parents be offended if I considered 65 old? He’s perfectly capable of doing his driveway. It would be an insult for me to “help” him. I should mind my own business.
But I wonder if he really should be shoveling snow? Am I going to just go away and leave them possibly shut in? (Turns out he shouldn’t be shoveling but was going to anyway, seeing no alternative.)
I went over there. The Dukes’ driveway is short and well-paved. This would be easy.
While I worked, though, I ran the calculations (shoveling is a great time for thinking). Long-term calculations: by helping now am I setting a new tradition? Do I always have to do this now? What am I getting myself into? Short-term calculations: what if I just shovel out half his driveway. Wouldn’t that be a great help? I’m sure they would be so thankful to have half their driveway shoveled out.
But then I heard a voice saying, AS! AS!
I knew what that meant: “Do unto others AS you would have them do unto you.” Not “Do unto others half of what you would have them do unto you.” And I thought, rats, why did I shovel my whole driveway? If I had just shoveled half my driveway instead of the whole thing, I would have saved myself work over here! And then I thought, say, my driveway is twice as long as Mr. Duke’s, and I didn’t do the back part of my driveway behind the house, maybe I really did just do half of my driveway!
And then I thought how amazing it is that God loves a sorry wretch of a hypocrite like me. And I repented. And I gladly finished my neighbor’s driveway and sidewalk, singing as I went.
Next time I’m going to get to bed early enough that I can get up early enough that I can care for my neighbors without worrying my wife about getting to our out of town engagement on time.
Thank God for opportunities to love a neighbor, and thank God that by His grace alone I didn’t miss this one.