Monday, December 04, 2006

The Skiing Spirit

Pastor Hank here. Boy, it sure cooled off here over the last few weeks. The Idaho panhandle had its first real snowfall the weekend of Thanksgiving. The white blanket calms the surroundings and makes it so peaceful--until the people drive on it for the first time each year. Seems like every winter people forget that snow is slippery, so Sheriff Edwards and his crew spend the first storm chasing down all the wrecks.

The winter months are something northern Idaho looks forward to each year; it means that skiing season is finally here. I think everyone knows about Sun Valley in central Idaho, but there are many good places to ski throughout the state. One of the destinations for Kanner Lake denizens is
Silver Mountain, about an hour away.

I haven't done a lot of skiing in my life. It tends to be an expensive sport to keep up with, and weekends are when I do most of my work. However, when my girls hit their teens it was the cool thing to go skiing with their friends. We managed to save up for some ski equipment for them, but they had to save money from the summer if they wanted to go to the hill a lot.

Every winter during that time the girls got so excited for the first snowfall, instead of looking at the slush and cold as an inconvenience. Their enthusiasm became contagious. I started to appreciate the snow more, where I had gotten into a rut of complaining about something that wasn't going to change (winters in Idaho, that is). Soon that enthusiasm translated into curiosity, and I wanted to see what the girls were experiencing.

Now my dear Janet didn't think it was such a good idea for me to get up on a vertical slope of slippery stuff with slick sticks attached to my feet. I get something in my head though, and I can be tough to turn around. At least I wasn't stubborn about one thing: I signed up for ski lessons. I'd heard too many stories of people being told that their skiing friend would stay with them, only to be left alone on the top of some black diamond mogul run. My girls swore they wouldn't do that. A pastor's supposed to be a trusting person, but there's still a point when it turns to folly!

So the girls and I drive on up to Silver Mountain. The day is perfect: sunshine, calm skies, and soft groomed runs. I have a young gal as an instructor, only a few years older than Amy (my oldest). She assured me that she'd have me heading in the right direction in no time. Now, a push at the top of the lift would've sent me in the right direction too, but I decided to trust her and the Lord to get me through this adventure.

You know what happened next? I had an absolute blast! The beauty of the mountains, the crisp air biting your cheeks as you slide down the slopes, the freedom of moving down the mountain. I started in the typical "A" wedge for skiing, but soon was cutting back and forth across the bunny hill. I couldn't believe the exhilaration of flying down the peak.

There was one other thing that I really picked up from my time on the hill. During my lessons, I found that it is best to lean into the skis for control. That defies common sense. My initial reaction was to lean back. It's closer to the ground, and leaning forward points down. But the front of the skis is where the control is, and if you lean into the skis, lean down the hill, then you will be in control. Once we lean back, we actually lose control and are headed for a fall. It took a lot of prodding from my ski instructor to get over my tendency to lean back, but it was amazing once I had a little faith and aimed down the mountain.

There is a point to all of this. I bring up the skiing because it reminds me of life in the Holy Spirit. We all want to be in control, and think that pulling back from being too "spiritually minded" keeps us level. I believe that people are uncomfortable with the idea of letting God have too much control, so they "lean back" in their skis, thinking they are in control. But this is backwards. The only way to make it down the mountain safely, to make it through this life victorious, is to lean in to the Spirit. It takes faith to do this, because it looks like we're hanging over the edge. But the control is now in His hands, and it will guide us through the trees, moguls, and all the other obstacles that face us on this mountain. When we lean back, and take the steering power away, that is when we will crash. Lean into the Spirit, trust Him to guide us as we schuss down the slopes, and we will go places we've never thought possible.

That's my skiing lesson for today. I wish I could say that I'm still a skier. A couple of years later I was racing my kamikaze twelve-year-old Andy down the mountain when a nasty crash put me down. My fearless little girl swooshed down the hill, as I climbed out of a snow bank with a sprained knee. It's never been quite the same since. Now my skiing rush is of the spiritual variety, and let me tell you, it is a ride like no other!

Posted by ~ Bailey Truitt @ 7:00 AM
Yes, and wasn't that snow beautiful. Still on the ground.

For all of you playing in the snow out there--remember where your hot coffee is when it's time to come in.
Posted by Blogger ~ Bailey Truitt : 8:20 AM
A busted knee is just why I don't ski. If I'm gonna bust a leg, I'd rather do it huntin'.
Posted by Anonymous wilbur : 8:22 AM
Oh, skiing's great. Something the whole family can do. I agree with you, though, Hank. It does get expense, what with lift tickets for everybody.

And, Bailey, there have been plenty times when I'm on a mountain and wished for one of your lattes right then.
Posted by Anonymous burt laroy : 8:23 AM
What a sermon, Pastor Hank...great imagery that will stay with me for a long time... Thanks, I needed that! Along w/one of Bailey's hot mocha's...ummmmmmmm
Posted by Anonymous Anonymous : 1:52 PM
Pastor Hank, you find a sermon in everything. And thing is, they always make sense. Thanks for this!
Posted by Anonymous Leslie Brymes : 5:12 PM
I have never "leaned over my skis," so to speak. But I must say, Pastor Hank, your posts always make me think perhaps I'm missing something.
Posted by Anonymous elizabeth monty : 5:13 PM
Love the ski analogy. And so true!
Posted by Blogger Dineen A. Miller : 8:45 AM
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