When the Ice Won't Freeze


This is the second year we've put up a homemade ice rink made out of PVC pipe and a plastic liner in our backyard. Last year, we learned a lot about water physics and what we were doing wrong. I think we broke the plastic liner about six times. Despite our troubles, we did manage to get about a month of skating out of it.

This year, we bought a different kind of liner, and we moved the rink to a different place in the yard. We thought we had it all figured out, and it would be a snap to get it set up and working. But we didn't count on the weather or a rabbit.

We put the rink up, filled it with water and waited ... and waited ... and waited for ice to form. We've had the strangest winter around here. It's been really warm. The kids have been outside in shirt-sleeves for a good portion of it. Usually, we're bundled up against wind chills and below zero temperatures, wishing for spring.

It takes about three days of below-freezing temperatures to get a sheet of ice thick enough to skate on. We've gotten to skate twice this year. The rest of the season, we've had a lovely wading pool in our backyard.

Last weekend, it looked like it was going to be cold enough to freeze our rink, so I went out to fill it up -- only to discover that our dog, in his pursuit of a rabbit who has taken up residence under the edge of the ice rink liner, had chewed holes in our liner. After considering the situation, the time it would take me to fix the liner and how short a time the weather would cooperate for ice, I threw in the towel. We're just not meant to have ice this year.

Sometimes, we find ourselves in the same situation in life. We look at our path ahead, and we see clear sailing. We have great plans, and we're on our way -- until the dog chews a hole in the liner and the weather won't cooperate. We couldn't foresee either of those things happening when we put up our ice rink, and neither one was really our fault.

When unexpected bumps arise in life, we have a couple of choices. We can throw in the towel or we can persevere. The trick is knowing which one is the best path. Sometimes, God throws obstacles in our path to get us off a road he never intended for us to take. Those obstacles are God trying hard to get our attention, asking us to let Him lead. But sometimes those obstacles are from Satan. We're on a path that pleases God and is making us a powerful example of His love to others, and Satan would love nothing better than to throw us off that path. We need to learn, and we need to teach our kids how to discern which is which.

Too often, we just assume that we are supposed to persevere. After all, the Bible tells us "You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised" (Hebrew 10:36). Too often we take that admonishment to persevere as a command to persevere in everything. Sometimes, we're on the wrong path, and we need to get off. Persevering through God-placed obstacles will just lead us to another one.

Lucky for us, God gives us the tools to make good decisions about those obstacles in our paths. He lets us know when He wants us to keep on pressing on toward the goal and when it's time to look for another route. Ask yourself a few questions when bumps in the road arise:

  • Am I doing anything that caused this obstacle? Sometimes obstacles are of our own making. Choices we've made have led us straight into an obstacle. The end goal of what we're doing may not be wrong, but the choices we made to get there may have consequences. God doesn't always save us from the consequences of our choices.
  • Have I prayed about it? Too often, we jump into things without praying about them. We may fill our schedule with "good" things but they may not be the best things. God wants the best for us and may ask us to set aside some good things to get there. If you've hit an obstacle and you haven't prayed about the path you're on, then it's time to backtrack and ask God what He wants you to do.
  • Does what I'm doing line up with what God says? If we're doing something that goes against God's commands, then we can be sure that those obstacles on the path are from God. God will never ask us to do something that doesn't line up with His Word.
  • What is this obstacle keeping me from? God will often put obstacles in our way to protect us. Satan will put obstacles in our way to keep us from doing God's will. Look at the end result of what you are doing. If the end result will glorify God, then Satan is probably throwing up obstacles to keep you from accomplishing something great for God's kingdom.

When you're faced with the equivalent of too-warm temperatures and dog-chewed holes, it's time to take a moment to evaluate where you're at. Learn to recognize the difference between obstacles from God trying to get your attention and Satan trying to block your momentum. Help your kids learn to discern the difference so they can end up on the path that God wants them to take.

 Linking up today with Raising Mighty Arrows.