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Your Tewksbury Today

Breaking Dams

Feb 17, 2019 05:55AM ● By Bonnie Lyn Smith
The timing of the snowfall was not the best this past week in the Merrimack Valley. While the inches were considerably few, the end time was dark. I could have gone out at 8 PM to snow-blow. That would have led to the best possible outcome, but I took my chances with the rain coming later that night and went to bed.

They’ll have a two-hour delay. I’ll have plenty of time to clear it.

And the kids did have a delay, but I made the wrong gamble. The snow blower was freshly filled with gasoline and eager to chug along my driveway, that is, until I arrived at the bottom, where the driveway met the main street. It took all of my arm strength and all 5 feet 2 inches of me to lean into that beast and get it going over the iced-over snow mounds sitting on top of pine needles. By the time I reached the top of the driveway again, it was clear I was not going to be able to do much more than a few horizontal moves across the width. Pretty soon, I gave up and steered the snow blower back into the garage.

With my shovel I scraped at heavy, wet snow as best as I could to clear for one car and optimistically headed toward the damage the snow plows left at the bottom of the driveway. Two feet long and one foot high of solid ice. I wanted to break at least a portion of the ice dam for the melting snow to escape and not worsen the ice build-up, but there was no chipping it. I prayed for warm temps for the afternoon, headed inside, and figured maybe this was the day I was stuck at home. I really didn’t want my husband to not be able to drive in when he returned from his business travel that evening, but what can a short, middle-aged, Scotch-Irish-French-Polish chick do with  a block of solid ice? Not much, apparently.

I made good use of my day at home working on some contracts and catching up on other work, so around 3 PM I went back out to try again. The surface snow was draining off the driveway, and it could have been my imagination, but the height of the ice dam seemed to have reduced—at least a little bit.

But when I tried to chip at it with my pathetic shovel, it made very little difference at all; I could feel my bones bearing the force. Feeling defeated over several issues that particular day, I prayed once again for help.

As I did, a private-business snow plow came along and signaled he would clear that ice dam up for me. And he did—in one fell swoop. I nodded and thanked him over and over again. As he drove off, I felt heavy sighs of gratefulness and a tear in my eyes that God had heard me and had sent someone to break that dam.

Got any dams in your life right now? Ones that seem impassable, impossible, impenetrable, weighty, and beyond your own abilities?

Yeah, me too. Here are a few of mine right now:

  • Relationship ice
  • Medical and health reasons to be frozen-stuck
  • Buried dreams
  • Fears of the future causing cold paralysis

That’s my raw, my “impossible.”

Now, here’s my God.

Isaiah 45:2, ESV

"I will go before you and level the exalted places, I will break in pieces the doors of bronze and cut through the bars of iron.”

Um, yeah. Can you hear the shatter, the crash, and the raw power of that? Don’t you want Him on your side?

This is the altar upon which I lift my burdens. I take the pile-ups of frozen-over issues that I cannot, in my own strength, bring resolution to and ask Him to drive up with His snow plow. It’s not that He takes my problems and dissolves them into dust, but He does move the ice that I can’t melt on my own:

  • The ice in other people’s hearts
  • The ice in my own heart
  • The ice of my limited vision

Here are the surrounding verses of this passage. As you read them, notice the very specific power images used:

  • Subdue nations
  • Loose belts of kings
  • Open doors and gates
  • Level the exalted places
  • Break doors of bronze
  • Cut bars of iron

Isaiah 45:1-6, ESV

Thus says the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped, to subdue nations before him and to loose the belts of kings, to open doors before him that gates may not be closed:

"I will go before you and level the exalted places, I will break in pieces the doors of bronze and cut through the bars of iron, I will give you the treasures of darkness and the hoards in secret places, that you may know that it is I, the LORD, the God of Israel, who call you by your name. For the sake of my servant Jacob, and Israel my chosen, I call you by your name, I name you, though you do not know me. I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me, that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the LORD, and there is no other."

What I think is amazing is that after God describes His demonstration of power, He then shares the blessings to follow:

  • I will give you treasures.
  • You will know Me.
  • I call you by name.
  • I name you.
  • I equip you.
  • People will know there is none besides me.


So let’s go back to the ice.

There is humility in asking God for help. To thaw those dams keeping us from our God-given purposes and peace, we have to ask.

I didn’t ask for the snow plow that showed up, but I did cry out to my God.

When traditional medicine fell short of bringing full restoration to my child, I sought the Lord, and He heard my cry. He led me down a path toward answers in functional medicine. Not a magic wand—but a dam-breaker.

When a very estranged relationship with a family member needed the warm glow of love to melt the misunderstandings, God worked behind the scenes to bring restoration.


I likely would not marvel at God’s might if He did not demonstrate His great power in my need. A fairy godmother wouldn’t cut it. I need the God who shatters dams, breaks bars, levels exalted places.

Which dams in your life can you surrender to Him this week? May I suggest that you put down the shovel of self-reliance and bow your head?

If you do, I am confident that you will see that snow plow show up and crush through the impossibles, impassables, and impenetrables in your ice dam at a time.


Author Bonnie Lyn Smith writes about mental health advocacy, special education, faith in the valleys of life, drawing healthy boundaries, relational healing, renewing our minds, walking with a Holy God, and much ado about grace. Join the conversation at Espressos of Faith.

She is the author of Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day and the founder and editor-in-chief of Ground Truth Press, a book publishing company.


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