I went skiing for the first time this winter. I have always been someone who enjoyed snowboarding, but never touched skis. My ability to snowboard began to dwindle as I began to have arthritis in my ankles. So, every time I would take students on a ski trip, I would tend to avoid the slopes and run to the tubing.
This year, all my tubing participants were unable to go and all I had left were skiers. I could have allowed them to ski without me and I would hang out in a lodge or I could join them and risk my life. I chose the latter because the former would have been far too irresponsible and less of a risk.
I got my skis fitted. I rented a helmet (safety never takes a day off), I bought some goggles, and I had my snow pants on. I was ready to hit the slopes and discover what I had been missing. I fell quickly. My skis popped off every time I fell, which I guess is a good thing. I went to the bunny slope and, with much fear and trepidation, I proceeded to go down the hill working turns and the wedge, which is a way to slow down and stop, but it was a struggle. My legs were feeling it!
I got pretty confident on the bunny slope and one of my students said, “Hey, do you want to try the Timberline?” ( I think that’s what it was called, it’s all a blur). I said, “Well, if it is an easy one, sure. I am willing to expand and take a larger risk.”
We got to the top of the hill and I knew right away I was in for some pain.
It started off fine. I was gliding down with the greatest of ease. The wedge was my friend. Then, the end of the hill came upon me. I saw the decline and instant fear fell upon me. I fell. I fell hard. I pictured the Goofy cartoon where he fell so fast that he became a giant snowball. I guess I could only hope I would end like that because that would have been a little more stylish.
Well, I’m writing this, so you know I lived, but it took me some time to get down. When I fell, I made it to a flat spot, put my skis back on, and glided to safety at the bottom. It was fun, but I also knew I was not completely ready for the bigger slopes. However, I learned that I could do it.
Due to time, and the fact that I wanted to return home to my wife and kids, I went back to the bunny slope. I learned how to slalom; which is a better way to slow down, and I finished the day in one piece. It was great!
If I stayed on the bunny slope, I would have remained limited to what I knew and would not have expanded my confidence level. I would have remained in fear of what was to come. However, through the question my student asked and my willingness to step beyond what I knew, I learned I had the ability to do something more than the simple slope.
This is how our spiritual life works. God wants us to start off learning the basics and getting used to what it’s like to follow Him, but He doesn’t want us to remain in our simple knowledge of Him. He wants us to grow. He wants us to expand our understanding of His calling in our lives. He wants us to study the scriptures in order to fully grasp His message. He wants us to pray more than just around the dinner table. He wants us to get to a point to pray for others. He wants us to get beyond the basics and move to the harder truths, like serving the poor and hungry, or loving our enemy, or going somewhere to serve people who are not “like us”.
You see, growth comes from the risks we take. Loving our enemies is a risk. Serving the poor is risky. Going somewhere that pulls us out of our comfort zone is can create a sense of peril in our lives, but Christ is calling some of us to step out and give it a chance.
Our spiritual growth rests on how much we are willing to take a chance. We took the step to accept Christ’s message of grace and mercy, but that is just the starting point. There is much more to be found.
We have to be willing to jump on the lift and see where it takes us. Then, enjoy the experience as you traverse the mountain of life. When we make it to the bottom, God will be there saying, “See, I knew you could do it!”
There might be some bumps and falls along the way, but in the end, your confidence will grow in Christ through your risk for His glory.
May we be willing to step off the familiar and journey into the unknown. May we not grow weary of the giant slope, but know that the One who called us to it will be with us the entire time.
Get off the bunny slope and enjoy the risk.
Peace and blessings friends!
QUESTION: What keeps you from taking a step beyond your comfort?