Seeing Jesus on the Ski Slope

Seeing Jesus on the Ski Slope

January 14, 2014

One of the blessings (and maybe pitfalls) of being a pastor is that I’m always looking for sermon illustrations in every day life. The blessing is that constantly I try to be aware of what God is doing around me. The drawback might be that I have a family that I need to be paying attention to instead of always thinking about the sermon I’m preparing. When I get that far away look in the middle of dinner or a family gathering, my wife will ask me, “Are you sermonizing again?” Oftentimes the answer is yes. But all in all I think it’s a good thing to be looking for God’s hand in life and how our experiences relate to Scripture. One such experience recently happened on Mt. Wachusett.

We were overjoyed this winter that Bella, our 9 year old, won a scholarship at school and that she was able to join the ski club for free. I’m volunteering as a chaperon, which allows me to ski for free as well. (I know what you’re thinking: pastors are cheap. You’re probably right.)

Last Wednesday night the trails were particularly icy and very fast. Bella and I were skiing down an intermediate course together. After a relatively easy segment of the trail, where Bella went ahead of me and was enjoying turning and carving up the snow, we came to a section of the mountain that was particularly steep.

I shouted over to her, “Are you ok?”

Her response was, “Yeah, but you go ahead of me and I’ll follow you.”

From that point on I skied in front of her, taking slow, wide “S-turns” to control our speed. She followed in my path until we arrived safely at the base of the mountain. It was a great run for Bella as she completed the trail without falling.

As I think about this now, there’s so much meaning in that trip down the mountain that I feel like I’m ready to erupt with a sermon illustration. As parents we want to allow our kids to experience the world and take on some challenges, but we also want to be there for them to help them through the difficult stretches of life. Bella loves being independent and going off on her own – on the ski slope and in her daily life – but she still needs Christy and me to guide her, especially during difficult times.

But how do we guide our children? We do this in many ways: words, teaching, lectures, discipline, etc. But I think about what Paul wrote, “Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ.” (I Cor 11:1) My kids are going to learn from me by following my example, by responding to challenging situations in the same way that I do. It’s humbling to think that they’re watching me and learning from me even when I’m silent. A few weeks ago Caleb, our 7 year old, awoke and came out into the living room to find me reading Scripture. He said to me, “Dad, all you ever do is read the Bible.” I’m not sure he meant it as a compliment, but I took it as one. But as I think about his statement, I know it’s not true. I should read the Bible much more than I do, and I should do what it says more often. I am grieved by my shortcomings as a father and as a man, but I pray that when Caleb is a man he will remember that I read the Bible and that I followed Christ. I hope that my actions will be an example to all of my kids. When I sin, I hope that they will remember that I repented and turned back to my King. As parents our children look to us to see what it looks like to be a follower of Christ. Parents, in many ways your walk is more important than your talk.

That’s why the second part of that verse is especially significant for all of us: “Follow my example as I FOLLOW THE EXAMPLE OF CHRIST.” Jesus has shown us the path through life. Jesus said to His disciples, and to us, “Follow me.” He is the perfect leader and guide through life. When you come to an icy, treacherous path in your life, don’t take the world’s advice; rather, follow Christ. He knows the way. He is the Way. Follow Him.