On A Slippery Slope

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My husband and I took our kids snow skiing for the first time. I’ve never spent time at a ski resort, and wasn’t planning to ski, so my husband was the teacher (this time), while I was the photographer.

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They put on their snow boots and skis, and my husband taught them lesson number 1…how to walk in skis. Judging by their awkwardness and turtle-like speed with just lesson 1, I had to giggle that this might prove to be a veeery long day for Steve.

They eventually made it over to the beginner’s area. Steve patiently instructed them on all the basics for using skis and their bodies to move one from one direction to another, stop, and so on. They slowly slid down the hardly-sloped…..hill?….(perhaps “ramp” would be a better word), falling, sliding, and wobbling, reminding me of when they were toddlers first learning how to walk with feet!

Once my children seemed to be moving on in their advancement, he took them to a higher, faster slope. I walked over to the ski lodge, pulled up a chair on the sunny outdoor porch, and watched the skiers and my family.

Repeatedly, I saw my very experienced skiing husband never leave our daughters’ sides. Even if he was many feet or yards ahead of them, he had his hawk eyes on them the entire time, constantly turning around, stopping, helping, holding out his hand to lift them up if they fell, encouraging them when they fell or messed up. “The Lord says, ‘I will make you wise and show you where to go. I will guide you and watch over you.” (Psalm 32:8)

He’s the one in yellow, and my daughter is in all green…
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As they rode on the ski-lift chair, out of my sight, I watched other skiers. Seeing that it was my first time at a ski slope, I was truly inspired watching the various kinds of assistance and training going on around me between experienced skiers with new ones. Many children skied while gripping onto their parent’s ski pole…
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One instructor was hanging onto the back of a woman’s jacket as she was learning to keep her balance and ski forward. When she fell, he lifted her back up…each time. She was laughing, and he was helping, with all the patience and consideration in the world..
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There was a small, paralyzed boy sitting in a ski chair…much like a stroller. (I wish I had taken a picture!) His father went down the slope hanging onto the boy’s chair-handle…for hours, saying, “Whooo! All right! Good job!”

The dad was doing all the work, but he was verbally encouraging his child for each successful trip down.

The scenario that tugged my heartstrings the most was a blind man with semi-paralysis. (Again…no picture. What’s wrong with me??!)  He was inside a rectangular hula-hoop device that had handgrips on each end. There were instructors on both sides, holding those handgrips, and skiing down the mountain alongside the man. The guides were communicating to him what do to, ensuring his safety and enjoyment.

In all my observation time, I was deeply moved by the love of mankind towards those who need a little help. But, even more important, I witnessed very vivid illustrations of how Jesus Christ feels towards and guides us….

Though most of us aren’t blind or physically crippled, we are all disabled at knowing what is coming around the next corner, making bad decisions for our lives, or just need some help and guidance along the way.   If we ask and permit God to be in control and take the lead of our daily lives…like the relationship between the parents/instructors, and the children on the slope, new skiers, and disabled people I watched…we’d negotiate the slippery hills and mountains of life more smoothly and enjoyably.

God says, “…I will guide the blind along a way they never knew; I will guide them along paths they have not known. I will make the darkness become light for them, and the rough ground smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not leave my people.” (Isaiah 42:16)

As the Israelites traveled through the unknown wilderness, headed towards their own land that God had promised to them, God’s Holy Spirit led them by means of a visible pillar cloud: “You have great mercy, so you did not leave them in the desert. The pillar of cloud guided them by day, and the pillar of fire led them at night, lighting the way they were to go. You gave your good Spirit to teach them.” (Nehemiah 9:19-20)
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Though I’d LOVE to have His Pillar show up at my doorstep to guide me each day, He is, still, fully capable of making His Presence known to each person, and communicating the directions and paths we should take…if we make the time to read the Bible (which gives very precise instructions), and actually listen for Him in our heads and hearts.

I truly cannot count how many times I’ve planned on doing one thing, while there’s another “voice” (thought) nudging its way in my mind, battling my original thought, or simply a bad feeling about it.

I also can’t count how many times seemingly “random” ideas have flooded my head, that I didn’t really want to do (and wouldn’t have put me or anyone else in harm). When I finally did those things, a great blessing followed.

The Lord Jesus is extremely real, very much alive, and goes absolutely everywhere we go, like those parents and skiing guides.

I came to several conclusions during my observation time.  First, how blessed I was…as only an onlooker…to see that boy, the blind man, and each person who leaned upon their guide.  Why?  I was blessed by seeing each student’s reliance upon their leader, and the subsequent joy they received when they learned from obeying the guidance.  Equally as much, I was blessed by each leader’s genuine concern for their pupil, and their subsequent joy when finally seeing them succeed!

That made me think… if I was blessed and learned such a profound lesson just by watching…then how blessed are other onlookers as they observe a person leaning upon the Lord as they live each day, or experience His Hand in their lives as they go through trials?

And…. how blessed does the Lord feel as His leadership is obeyed, and He sees us succeed and learn?

One last conclusion I made while watching my husband and the other doting instructors was that God’s love and care for our well being and enjoyment of this life (that He has given us) is tremendous, all-consuming, all-guarding, endlessly patient, and packed with advanced possibilities of exciting adventures… because that’s how my husband felt towards our girls, how the guides felt with the blind man, and how the father felt towards his paralyzed son.

NONE of them had to be out on a ski slope.  That dad could’ve hired someone, or had warded off any notions of taking his son onto a ski slope.  The ski instructors with the blind man didn’t have to have that job….but how gratified do you think they felt both during the skiing and when the day was done?   My husband’s back was killing him that night from bending over so many times to pick up my daughter.  But, he would have done it all over again in a heartbeat, and the bonding time with her through teaching and watching her ski solo  was exactly what he wanted.

God feels the EXACT same way about you.

“You are my rock and my protection. For the good of you name, lead me and guide me.” (Psalm 31:3-4)

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