I’d call myself a pretty good skier, although one particular afternoon on the slopes I faced a challenge beyond my ability, or so I thought.
Skiing with my family, we took a chairlift higher up the mountain where only single and double black diamond runs—for experts only—could be accessed.
Usually, we skied an easy groomed run to the right of the lift, but on this occasion my husband suggested we turn to the left and explore one of the many ungroomed runs on that side. Although a little reluctant, I agreed to the adventure.
Having left the crowds behind and with our teens shooting off ahead, we set off down a gentle run. However, in the distance I noticed it disappeared from view. Soon, we were standing on a cliff edge staring down a precipitous slope scattered with fir trees and inundated with moguls—huge bumps. In my mind, this was no single black diamond.
My legs turned to Jello and sweat began to trickle down my back.
My husband, leading the way, skied off through a narrow icy gully between two trees, calling for me to follow him onto a wider, but equally steep, part of the slope.
“I can’t do this,” I shouted after him. I stood for a long time trying to pluck up courage to move.
Eventually, I decided to unclip my skis and, stepping gingerly, I moved across to the trees. For one second, I had the wild but dangerous idea of letting my skis slide down the slope, following them on my backside.
I looked around, desperately hoping a ski patrol, in their bright red jackets emblazoned with white crosses, would come by pulling a yellow stretcher and give me a ride down the mountain. But, I was alone.
I clung to the swaying treetop poking through the snow. “I’m stuck,” I yelled. “I can’t do this,” I howled again. By now my husband was further down the mountain.
I struggled to clip on my skis as they slipped on the steep slope. My shaking legs didn’t help.
I wanted to give up.
I could stay clinging to the tree at 12,000 feet while the sun dipped in the sky, even though that really wasn’t an option, or I could tell myself I could do it.
I imagined nightfall on the isolated mountaintop.
At last, levelheadedness kicked in. “Nobody can get you down this run, Rachel,” I said out loud. Speaking to oneself may be the first sign of madness, but it made common sense to me. “It’s all up to you, Rachel. You can do this,” I continued with my pep talk. “You can do this.”
With skis back on my feet, I began to slide slowly across the slope.
Looking back, have you faced a “black diamond” challenge this year? Have you seen it as impossible to overcome? Has it been too much for you? Do you wish to be rescued from it?
How can you be determined to master your challenges instead of letting your challenges master you?
If my husband and I had a mountain guide that day to show us the best way down, the run would still have been hard work, but we would have known a better route. Following the guide’s ski tracks would have given me confidence.
In life, we do have a guide. God promises to lead us. We just need to follow the tracks he sets out in his Word, the Bible.
My boys shouted encouragement as I made my way down the slope: “Mom, you can do this. Go to the left. Turn there, that’s a good route down.”
Surround yourself with people who will spur you on and who have experience or have “been there.”
It overwhelmed me to look from the top to the bottom of the run. However, when I looked only a little way ahead of me, the steepness seemed more manageable. I focused on choosing where to make one turn at a time. What I found daunting then seemed possible and soon I was at the end.
Pick one or two steps to help you move forward in what seems an impossible situation. When you have been successful with these, then you will feel like you can do more.
Looking forward to the New Year, how can you approach continuing challenges or new ones that arise with confidence?
Lord God, thank you for promising to walk before me and with me through the challenges I face in the coming year. Amen.