With approximately two feet of snow on the ground, winter is getting old, fast! The majority of the wind-swept storm systems come from the northwest and most of the south-facing roof surface of the church building has been covered with drifts three to five feet thick! Even with all of the effort to pull snow off the building, the pile up of ice has reached 6 to 12 inches. When an ice dam forms, water from snow melt or rain gets backed up and finds a path under the shingles into the building. This causes costly water damage and makes quite a mess.
When water is finding its way into the building, it’s time for immediate action. I donned my hunting coat and heavy boots, then gathered up a snow shovel, a ladder and my hatchet. Jokingly, my wife changed my Facebook profile picture to Rudolph’s Yukon Cornelius as I started chopping away. After working at it alone for a while, I decided our family should get some exercise! It took some convincing (bribery) to get the kids to think that moving a sizable amount of snow would be “fun.” Together, we put a dent in the formidable mountain of snow and potentially reduced the negative effects of winter on the church roof. With their shoveling, and with my pounding and hatcheting of the ice that had formed on the valleys, hopefully we have prevented or minimized the potential water damage that would come from the next thaw.
Because this snow and ice removal is a rather lengthy process, I’ve had some time to pray and think. So, what does a pastor think about when smashing out ice dams that have collected on the church roof?
First, it is incredible how hard ice is! Just think, in five months I’ll want to jump into a lake that is made of this exact substance (just 50 degrees warmer)!
Next, pummeling a block of ice 10″ thick takes more than just one swing.
I resolved to keep pounding and chipping away, careful not to damage the roof by cutting too deep. Hours of effort led to the resolve of cutting wide triangular channels on the blocks that were just too hard to pulverize. Another aspect of my effort was to be sure that the valleys were able to channel and repel water without hindrance. While I was keeping time with my framing hammer and humming the man song from ‘Frozen,’ Beware the Frozen Heart, my thoughts turned to the ministry of God’s Word:
The preaching and teaching ministry these days feels a lot like trying to pound out an ice dam. It can be a lonely place. It’s not particularly fun, but it must be done. Here I am, just pounding it out, not with proud professionalism, but rather with humility, swinging the hammer because it is expedient and necessary. The hard core of ice also reminded me of the stone cold heart: the only way to break through is to keep swinging away, hoping for a breakthrough. With the consistency of a drummer, a purposeful, direct beat with the right amount of force will eventually break down that icy coldness. Those sometimes sharp, rigid shards won’t break free easily (and sometimes they bite back), but my hope is that by chiseling out a swath through strategic blocks, a channel is created when things “warm up.” When that thaw comes and the water starts to flow, it will no longer back up and create a mess in the building; rather, the stream will actually cut through and the remaining ice will fall to the ground. My prayer was, “God, please bring a gentle thaw that will cause a slow trickle, and may that trickle find a pathway through all this hardness. Once you bring this breakthrough, let winter give way to spring in all our hearts!”