Parables: Part 4 -The Parable of the Shoveling Neighbor

A parable is literally something “cast alongside” a truth in order to illustrate that truth. The website Got Questions labels the 35+ parables that Jesus told as “inspired comparisons” and then adds that a common description of a parable is: “an earthly story with a heavenly meaning”-a definition from my childhood.  Jesus often ended a parable by saying, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” This was his call to listen to the parables, not just as one would listen to an ordinary story, but as one who is seeking the truth of God. I hope that my little parables inspire that intent  in you. (This post was first published in 2015).

It had snowed all night.  In the morning, as I opened the door to get the newspaper, I was greeted with a blast of cold air. But the door had only opened about four inches. High winds had sculpted waves of drifts across our front yard and up several steps to the front door during the night.  The snow covered the bottom of the door.  Later when I tried again, I  gained only a few more inches.  The back door was blocked as well.  We were prisoners in our own house!

A few hours later, I heard the noise of a snow blower. I ran to the door to see if our neighbor was once again blessing us with the gift of snow blowing.  Of course I couldn’t get the door open. I was so relieved to see him, I wanted to be sure I could thank him, so I put my shoulder to the door.  This time I opened the door enough so that on while on my knees I was able to grab a shovel next to the steps, snake it through the wrought iron railing. and pull it into the house.  I tried to shovel the snow away from the door from  inside the house, but I didn’t make much progress.

Suddenly there was no more engine noise.  I looked up and saw our neighbor at the bottom of the steps.  He yelled, “I’ll get that in a minute.”  Since our unspoken agreement had always been that we would shovel the steps and he would do the rest, I shook my head and said, “That’s okay.”  He came up the steps and smiled a big smile, “I’ll get it!  I love doing this stuff.”  Finally I realized that this lovely man was going to solve all my snow-related problems, and I smiled and said thank you at least a dozen times.

All through the day when I looked out the window at the drifts, I smiled in gratitude. When I left to do some errands, I smiled gratefully  at our ease in leaving the house and driving out onto the street. Before I went to sleep that night, I again was full of thanks as I remembered how our neighbor had blessed us.  Suddenly this whole experience became a parable.

Here was this man giving me the gift I so badly needed (making it possible for us to leave the house) and I had said, “No thanks, I’ll handle it.” – when I knew I couldn’t.  And then he offered again, telling me he loved doing it for me.  How many times have I stood in front of God totally blocked in by some problem and said,  “No thanks, I can handle it,” Gratitude-Quote-520x245knowing I was at the end of my rope. Why do I insist on trying to run my life, when God has repeatedly said, “I’ll handle it; I love doing this for you.”  And have I ever been as extravagant in my gratitude to God for sustaining my life and making a path through obstacles and pain and helplessness as I was to my neighbor?

We had only had a few inches of snow last night, but as I write this, my neighbor again is clearing our path.  I think this little object lesson from Jesus will live long in my memory.

2020 Update:  Now that we live in a lower level apartment instead of a house, we have the benefit of having the maintenance man (I call him Wonderful Lonnie – but not to his face) use a snow blower to clear the snow off of the patio. The parking lot and driveway are also plowed.  The lesson described in this parable, however, is well-learned.  Since Fred died, people are constantly asking if I need help with this or that.  And if I do need help, I  usually say yes (except to food since I am diabetic).  I understand now that when God says, “I’ll handle it,” he usually uses people I love (or strangers who will become people I love) to carry out the task. 

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4 Responses to Parables: Part 4 -The Parable of the Shoveling Neighbor

  1. Isn’t it great to be reminded of blessings that seem to fade into the woodwork?!

  2. Tim Henley says:

    It’s been a while since I’ve taken time to read your wonderful writings but today this one hit extra close to home. I’ve begun renovating a home and have come to realize this principle at work but the way you put it hit extra close to my heart today. Thank you for sharing!

    • Tim,
      How great to hear from you! I thought of you sometime last week, wondering how are and what you are involved in. Blessings on your project and on your spiritual formation journey it (and just life in 2021) take you in.

  3. Nancy Miller says:

    Karen, When we had 3 kids under 5 and Phil was adhering to the Howard Miller work ethic of being at work for 11-12 hours a day, I had the same kind of neighbor. She was 30-40 years older than I but she loved to snowblow and shovel the end of the driveway.I’d hea her coming and say “Thank you, Lord!”

    On Wed, Dec 16, 2020 at 1:34 PM Living as Apprentices wrote:

    > livingasapprentices posted: “A parable is literally something “cast > alongside” a truth in order to illustrate that truth. The website Got > Questions labels the 35+ parables that Jesus told as “inspired comparisons” > and then adds that a common description of a parable is: “an earthly s” >

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