Having grown up in Vermont, and living fifteen minutes from a major ski resort, you would think I knew something about skiing. At least I thought I did. True, I was not as dedicated as the ‘ski bums’ who lived only for skiing and went every single day of the season, whether it was 30 degrees above zero, or minus 30 degrees. I did not like skiing that much. It was exhilarating to get outside in God’s beautiful country and feel the brisk mountain air on my face, but when that wind whipped through three layers of clothing and reached to my very bones, it was not worth the time, money, and pain.
The winter after I met Joe, I found out he enjoyed skiing, though the mountains he claimed that he had skied on in Connecticut were no where near the size of the mountains we had in Vermont, and I was proud of that fact. Now he could learn how to really ski!
One weekend when he was visiting, he brought his ski gear, along with some expensive gloves and thermals he had picked up for both of us to use, and we set out that Saturday for some night skiing in Bolton Valley. It was not too cold out that evening and the air felt refreshing as we rode up the lift for our first trip down the mountain. We watched the skiers glide silently below us as we chatted our way to the top, and when it came time for us to get off, we easily skied down the small hill and made our way to the trail’s starting point.
I had been on these trails before so I thought I knew what I was doing. Green usually meant an easy trail, one meant for a beginner or, to be honest, someone who did not ski very often or who had not taken many lessons to know what they were doing….like me. Blue was for intermediates, who liked a little more challenge to their winter sport, with moguls and tougher terrain. The hardest trails were always marked black. This meant that danger and death lurked beyond the trees and unless you knew what you were doing, you would not attempt this if you ever cared to see your family again.
Joe and I made our first run on the green trails and had a blast, laughing as we raced each other down. I cannot remember just how many runs we made that night before I decided I wanted to attempt a blue trail, one I had gone down before and figured it would be the same as before. Joe decided he would skip this trail and take an easier one down and meet me at the bottom, and disappeared from sight. “This is a cinch,” I thought to myself. “I will beat him down and ask him ‘what took so long’ when he finally meets up with me.”
That is until I turned the corner and looked at the stretch of mountain that lay before me. By the light of the tall posts that lined the endless cliff, I could see gigantic moguls dotting the hill, with no place to squeeze around them. I gulped as I considered my two choices – I could take my skis off and climb back to the top and then ski down the green trail, or I could simply begin making my way down the mountain, one mogul at a time. I decided to give it a try. Besides, how hard could it really be anyway? They looked like they were just smaller mountains on top of a bigger mountain!
I slowly began making my way down, only to fall as I rounded the first monstrous mound of snow in front of me. I landed in a heap, my skis twisted awkwardly, and my poles a few feet away from me. I pulled myself up, regained my footing, and began once again to attempt the next mogul, only to fall again. Like a drowning skier, I made my way down that mountain trail, falling down time and time again, only to get back up, gasping for just enough air to help me get through the next obstacle that lay before me.
It must have taken me over an hour to reach the bottom, but I finally did, after pleading with God to help me make it down alive. With tears of humility, frustration, anger, embarrassment all rolling down my cheeks, I met up with Joe. Distraught with worry, he had been ready to call for help, thinking that something terrible had happened to me up there! Something terrible had happened, though I had nothing to show for it on the outside, except for a few tears and some bruises, but inside I had found that I could not tackle that mountain alone. A giant had lain before me, and thinking I was someone special and knew how to go about it alone, I had quickly found that I could not do it in my own strength. My pride led me to fall time and time again. God allowed me to finish the trail, but He had a lesson for me to learn that day. I should never attempt to try to handle the mountains alone because He wants to help guide us, showing us the right path to take in our lives. If we bite off more than we can chew, we usually find that we end up choking on our mistake, and need to ask Him to help us get through our failure. Do it right the first time and in the end we will save ourselves a lot of grief and pain.
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall bring it to pass.” Proverbs 3:5-6