I am a wife, a mother, a speaker and a writer. I am not a skier.
This winter was my 14th time to suit up and brave the chair lift moving at approximately 88 mph. On the eve of our adventure I never sleep well. It’s not from the anticipated excitement, but because I am terribly nervous and tense. I get nauseous, restless and sometimes I give myself an upset stomach just thinking about it. I’ve been to ski school at least twice and I could probably write a lengthy article about the techniques of proper ski control. None of that translates into practical application for me. My leg, knees and ankles are uncooperative with the truth in my brain. My body is weak because it hasn’t been trained for this activity.
Getting up the mountain is easy, once I master my illogical fears of the chair lift. On the 9-minute ride up I watch the skiers below, effortlessly tackling the hard trails. No one seems to be struggling and no one appears they have been up all night dreading this event. All you can hear is the gentle swoosh, swoosh of their graceful motion down the hill. I envy them.
There is something majestic as the sky meets earth when you’re on top of a mountain. Breathing in the cool, crisp air and seeing the glory of God displayed in nature, I feel like I can do anything. It’s possible I can do anything. Unfortunately, making it down the ski run without crying, falling or saying things I’m not proud of isn’t part of the anything.
What makes a good skier? Preparation and practice, among other skills I don’t possess. (But I do have a new ski jacket so please tell me that counts for something.)
Every run is the same for me. I look from the top, paralyzed by the knowledge I’ll need to get to the bottom before dark or risk being the subject of a search and rescue mission. As I inch my way down, traversing the mountain in a calculated, awkward manner, I vow to myself next year will be different. Next year, I tell myself, I will be certain my body is more prepared…stronger leg muscles, more confidence, a better understanding of the terrain. Next year.
When I finally make it to the SLOW zone, as if the whole experience wasn’t slow enough for me, I breathe a sigh of relief. It only took me 2 hours to ski a trail that took the rest of my family 10 minutes. (I wish I was exaggerating.) I look back up the mountain, proud I’m alive to tell about it. I made it, but I am worn and exhausted and have nothing left for another run. If I were more prepared, I could continue to ski, but in my current, unprepared state, I quit.
Our daily grind in this world is not much different. We face mountains that are too hard to navigate in our own strength. Children, jobs, relationships, etc. can take more energy than we can muster. However, if we are prepared and practiced in the discipline of walking with Christ, the “trail” won’t overtake us. His Holy Spirit will give us grace, when we know how to hear Him. My heart’s desire is to face the hurdles of this world with a strong mind, a deep confidence in the sufficiency of Christ and a good understanding of God’s Word. That’s how I get to the end without being worn.
Friend, it is time to prepare for the days ahead, because life is one big ski hill, full of rough terrain. With Jesus, we can do it. But let’s not wait until next year to begin training.