For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes. – Proverbs 24:16
I was channel surfing yesterday when I came across a sports update featuring the results of a women’s downhill skiing event. Now I have to admit I really don’t watch much skiing. Every four years while watching the Olympics, I may spend a few minutes on it while I’m waiting for a hockey game to start, but otherwise I’m just not the skiing type. So as I stood there watching the results of this race, I was wondering to myself why I was even paying attention. Soon, I had my answer.
The reporter showed American skier Lindsey Vonn making her run in the competition. She is one of the best skiers in the world (she’s the only female skier whose name I could recognize, so she must be good). The announcer drew the audience’s attention to Vonn as she came around a set of gates near the top of the run. As Vonn turned to her left, her outside leg slid out from under her, causing her to stumble. Amazingly, she did not fall. She stretched out her legs and arms to regain her balance and quickly resumed her track down the mountain.
As I surfed on, I found myself thinking more about what she was able to accomplish. To lose an edge and stay on her feet was an incredibly athletic feat. I don’t know how she did it, but she was able to avoid wiping out – and that’s a good thing considering she was on the side of a mountain wearing waxed skis travelling at a high rate of speed. Losing your edge at that moment may not only cost you a chance to win the race – it could cost you your career or even your life.
In a spiritual sense, we can relate to what skiers experience. Your life is moving you forward like a skier on a mountain. We face obstacles, hazards, and traps along the way that we must maneuver around with no opportunity to simply stop. Even when we stumble and fall, we continue moving. Satan would like nothing more than to trip us, knowing that just like a skier, we are most vulnerable when we fall. So how do we keep standing? The same way a skier does…
Vonn was able to keep going because of her physical strength and years of practice. Her body was strong enough to fight off the physical forces that were trying to pull her to the ground. When our faith is strong, we too are better able to fight off the natural forces that are trying to pull us away from our goals and the safety that comes from staying in form. Moreover, by committing herself to hours of practice, Vonn knew what to do not only at the moment her ski started to slip, but she also knew how to recover and make up for the gaffe without losing her momentum. Spiritually, our practice comes from devoting our lives to a disciplined approach to worship, Bible study, and faith development. When we are in worship, in our word, praying regularly, and living our lives according to the Spirit at work in our heart – we too will know what to do when we feel ourselves losing our edge.
This may be a nice analogy, but we must recognize that it is far more than that. This is critical for every believer to know and understand. Like the skier on a mountain, we can’t simply stop our life when things get difficult. Our responsibilities to our families, our jobs, and to everyone else depending upon us keep coming no matter what may be happening in another area of our life. All of us have experienced times where our skis came out from under us, times when we’ve lost our edge, our momentum, and our confidence to carry on. In those moments, we must rely upon our training – the strength we’ve gained through God’s love and the practice we have in serving Him diligently each day. It won’t slow things down, but it will keep us on our feet and moving in the right direction – maintaining our edge and realizing our destiny no matter what our mountain may bring.