We had a pretty big snowstorm in Northern Virginia recently. By pretty big, I mean 4 more inches than I ever experienced when I lived in Los Angeles. Any of you in colder climates probably scoff at rookie drivers like me that are affected by a light dusting like this. But it seemed to me that my car was buried under an avalanche.
I’ve never actually cleared off a car completely covered by snow. Crazy, right? But Anna and I needed to get to church the next day, so I headed outside to get the car ready. While I was there, I noticed something strange: It wasn’t just our car that was covered in snow—it was every car in the parking lot. Imagine that.
That’s when I heard the still, small voice that often comes to me when I’ve been focusing on myself so much. God said, “Why don’t you clear off some other cars too?” “Why?” I asked. “Maybe they won’t need to drive anytime soon. And it’s still snowing for crying out loud.”
His response was familiar: “Why don’t you clear off some other cars too.” So I did. I started clearing the car at the end of the lot, slowly working my way back up the line of car that were all buried under this avalanche. I imagined one of the car owners seeing me from his porch and coming out to ask why I was clearing his car. And I would say, “Because I love Jesus, and you should too.” And he would say, “OK.” And it would be great.
After 13 cars, my arm was pretty tired, and I thought it was pointless because the snow was still falling. And no one had actually seen me clearing these cars, so it wasn’t like this was actually bearing any tangible fruit. So I quit and headed back inside.
The next morning, I awoke to the same still, small voice: “Why don’t you clear off some more cars.” What? Not again. I rattled off the same list of excuses but eventually threw on my warm clothes and headed downstairs. The snow had stopped falling, and the sky was filled with the brilliance of the sun. Each car sat ready for my brush and my broom.
After the fourth car, I saw a guy walking out into the parking lot. Here he comes, I thought. This was going to be the “OK” guy. But he walked past me and unlocked the door of a car a few rows back. I recognized this car—I had cleared it the night before. There it sat, with the windshield and windows essentially clear. But he got in, started the car, and pulled out of his space.
He didn’t even notice! He just hopped right in and drove off. How inconsiderate! I didn’t even get to share the gospel with him, and even worse, I didn’t get the credit for what I had done. So I asked God what was going on, and he reminded me of what He’s been trying to teach me about obedience.
We’ve been taking a look at what happens when we obey God and see no immediate payoff. Is there redeeming value in obedience for obedience’s sake? Or should we just trust that God is doing a thousand things in and through our obedience that we may not see? And we’ve seen that God is in the business of producing fruit through our obedience, whether we always see that fruit or not.
What I also realized that morning was that love means putting someone else first even when no one is looking. But that’s nothing new; I have heard this hundreds of times. But what God also showed me was that love also means putting someone else first even when they don’t even know they’re being loved. Or to put it another way—when they don’t know they even need to be loved in that way.
This has implications for every relationship in my life. I prefer to serve people in love when they notice and serve me back. But it’s another thing entirely to love and serve people that don’t notice and don’t even know they’re being loved and served.
God reminded me that He “shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Before God saved me, I didn’t notice the ways in which He loved me. And I didn’t know I needed His love in that way. But Christ died for me, even while I was still a sinner. And He died for me, now justified, and being sanctified, while still a sinner.
So glory be to God who loves us when we don’t notice and loves us when we don’t know we need it. And may we be the kind of people who love others in this way.
Question: Have you ever had the chance to love someone who didn’t know they needed it?