We skied yesterday at a mountain that I had only been to once, long ago, when I was a beginner skier. It was covered in pea soup fog that time, and so I didn't get a real taste of what the mountain was like. (Other than a source of abject terror from climbing a near vertical, winding, switchback road and unable to see a foot in front of me...) Yesterday, it was a clear sunny day on Beech Mountain, perfect for our first ski outing of the year. I did a couple of runs on the 'easier' slope to get my "ski legs" back and then went to the top of the mountain. I had gotten my skis 3 years ago, used, and had never once had them waxed or tuned. But this summer, I decided it might be wise to have a pro look at them and "tune them", whatever that meant. He did so, assured me the skis were in good shape, and that now, newly waxed, I would be able to go fast.
Fast? Who said I wanted to go fast? I don't ski to go fast. I ski to make it to the bottom of the hill in one piece.
I have skied from the top of a nearby mountain, (Sugar), and so felt confident I could ski from the top of Beech. On the chair lift up the mountain, I asked my chair mate if he had skied both mountains, and were they comparable? He felt they were. He had skied for thirty years, was a good skier, and prefered Beech. This was worriesome to me, a poor intermediate skier at best. I suspected he prefered Beech because it was more of a challenge. Another chair lift rider assured me Beech was "about the same" as Sugar. However, when I got off the chair lift at the top of Beech, I noticed that since it was the only slope open for skiers other than beginners, it was slick with ice from all the snowboarders mushing down whatever little powder there had once been. And it looked much steeper than Sugar Mountain.
I am going to die.
Nonetheless, I had no choice but to head down the mountain. First I looked out over the precipitous drop and asked some nearby snowboarders who were strapping on their boards, "What's the easiest route down?"
They directed me to the far right slope, and must have discerned that I was nervous.
"Just zigzaag back and forth across the mountain and you will be fine," advised the girl.
So off I went, down the mountain. Now if you recall, my skis were newly waxed for the first time since I had owned them. And the mountain was already slick and icy. I shot down the mountain. I tried to go back and forth, but it is hard to steer on ice, and I was not at all happy with how wax makes skis go fast. In front of a slopeside condo with a viewing audience putting on their skis, I did a wild windmill of my arms and crashed. Fortunately, I was not damaged (much), and got right back up so I barely noticed their wonderment about why I was not on the easy slope. I headed on downward. There was little else I could do, since gravity was unfortunately still a law of the universe.
I made it the rest of the way without mishap, but I learned my lesson. I spent the rest of the day on the easy slope. I like to try new things, to push myself to do things I am not really quite capable of. Nearly every book or article I have written is an example of that tendency. It is disheartening when instead of expanding my skill set, it backfires. But life is quite often filled with set backs. Our walk is rarely a straight shot forward without stumbles. The wise person discerns that sometimes the stumbles are God rebuking us. Sometimes we really are on top of a mountain we shouldn't be on and the lesson we need to learn is back down, be humble enough to recognize when you have erred, and stay on a path that will allow you to go safely where God intends for you to go.
(PS-- It is best not to add wax till you are ready to go fast.)
For a short time our fathers disciplined us as they thought best. Yet, God disciplines us for our own good so that we can become holy like him. We don’t enjoy being disciplined. It always seems to cause more pain than joy. But later on, those who learn from that discipline have peace that comes from doing what is right. Strengthen your tired arms and weak knees. Keep walking along straight paths so that your injured leg won’t get worse. Instead, let it heal. Try to live peacefully with everyone, and try to live holy lives, because if you don’t, you will not see the Lord. Make sure that everyone has kindness from God so that bitterness doesn’t take root and grow up to cause trouble that corrupts many of you. (Hebrews 12:10-15 GW)