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I just stood there, frozen, staring out the kitchen window. I was having a perfectly wonderful conversation with my wife Julie over lunch, stood up, and there it was. My wife looked at me and then stood up and stared as well. Now what was I supposed to do? It was déjà vu all over again.

A couple of weeks earlier, I was watching TV in bed with my wife as we waited for my daughter to get home from another play rehearsal—she is the stage manager. It was about 10:30 at night and snowing. We are always happy to have our daughter home safe and sound after she has been out, especially in the winter.

The phone rang. It was our daughter, and she had slid through a stoplight and off the road—barely, but enough where she was stuck. She was with a police officer and they were looking at calling a tow truck. She was stuck partly in a turn lane and could not stay there. She told us on the phone that our truck could probably pull her out if we were there.

What should we do? She is thirty or more miles (45 minutes) away. The police officer decided he couldn’t wait any longer and was going to call a tow truck. We decided to go pull her out. If we got there first, we would save about $150 for a tow. If not, we would have to pay up. I thought if someone would just stop and give her a little push or pull, we wouldn’t have to be going at all. Weren’t there any good Samaritans out there?

Hoping for a Good Samaritan to come by during a Minnesota snow storm takes quite a bit of faith. Since I wasn’t feeling overly spiritual at the moment, we got out of bed, got dressed, and raced out to where she was in the ever-increasing snowfall. My wife was not happy with my driving. I was not happy to be doing this. I mean, we would be home after midnight when this was all done.

Notice that this is all about me.

Well, we finally got there—just a little too late, but just in time to pay the tow truck driver. We got the car, turned around, and headed for home. I was happy that she was safe and that the car wasn’t smashed up. I really was! My wife drove my daughter’s car and our daughter rode home with me. It was snowing pretty hard by now and as we got closer to home, it was getting heavier.

Up ahead, a couple of cars looked like they just slid into the ditch. I thought, hey, I have a truck, a tow strap, and a shovel in the back. I am dressed for the weather as well. I should stop and give them a hand. But as I got closer, I looked over at them… and then kept right on driving. I passed a few cars in this condition, and we arrived home safe and sound. Hurray!

What a good guy I am! I complain about no one helping my daughter, and when it comes time for me to practice what I was preaching, I fail. Big time!

Romans 7:15-20
New Living Translation:
“I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.”

As I looked out the kitchen window, the events from two weeks ago whizzed by in a nanosecond. I knew I had another opportunity to help someone in need, but of course, my flesh started the fight right on schedule. I am warm, cozy, and comfortable. I don’t want the hassle.

Sometimes we can feel good about ourselves and think we have our act pretty much together. Then, wham-o, you trip over the crack in the sidewalk, and fall flat on your face. I am not proud of the fact that I feel like such a failure in some areas of my life. Many times I feel too selfish, too concerned about me, too wrapped up in my own wants.

I don’t like it.

Even though we may be overly critical of ourselves, the Lord sees us as righteous and forgiven and whole. Yes, if you compare yourself with perfection, via the Law, you will fall short—every time. We are all a work in progress and we all are in different places on that journey.

Because I know that I have shortcomings in certain areas, I know that other people have them as well. Maybe they have their act together in this area, but don’t in an area that I have less difficulty in. By realizing this, I have a lot more empathy for people and what they are going through. I am certainly not perfect, and knowing this about myself helps me to not expect perfection from others. It also helps me to give myself a break.

Back in my kitchen, I stood there, frozen in time. I saw that the neighbor across the street was not going to get out by himself. He was stuck in the snowbank as he drove his car off the side of his long driveway. Now the battle in my mind was on. I put my flesh in a headlock and made it submit. I jumped up in triumph as the referee raised my hand in victory! Well, at least that’s how I remember it.

What I really did was push through the resistance and grudgingly shout, “Alright!” to no one in particular. I got my winter gear on, got in my truck, and drove over to help my neighbor. After a few minutes of pushing, shoveling, and rocking the car back and forth, he popped back out onto the driveway, free at last.

He was grateful. I was happy and fulfilled that I could help him out in even the smallest way. I mean, what are neighbors for, right?

Even a small victory in getting over my fleshly self is a victory nonetheless. I am thankful that the Lord is patient with my imperfection. Every day there is a new opportunity to make a difference for someone else. I am hopeful that I can pass the test more often than not. Anyway, it is progress.

Maybe there is hope for me yet.

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