The road home
Several years ago, a small portion of our family (there’s lots of us, so having only 13 on this trip was small) spent the week skiing in Big Sky, Montana. It was a great week. Skiing, of course, was the goal, but it was joined by challenging card and domino playing, fabulous home-cooked-meal eating, necessary computer working, unnecessary, but fun facebooking, more-beautiful-than-you-can imagine scenery looking (including ooh and ah-ing), lots of picture taking and then more picture taking, Yellowstone National Park snow coach touring, and plenty of memory making. Of course, I have several stories, but I’m going to share only one of the many adventures a week in the snow gave us southern folks.
After three days of ski school, our youngest skiers “had it down,” so to speak, and joined us veteran skiers (not that we’re a ton better, just more experienced) on one last run down the mountain. We were so proud of them. Will, who is nine, fearlessly tackled each run like a football player ready for a championship game. Bella, our skinny little eight-year-old, did the same. Her tiny legs dug into the snow like little snowplows as she worked hard to maintain control and keep up with crowd. They were skiing with such confidence that we were happy to let them lead the way to our ski house.
Apparently, we mistook knowing how to ski for knowing how to get back to our house. Clearly, we were also oblivious to another potential problem that comes with skiing—once a turn is missed, there’s no easy way to fix it. Still, none of this crossed our minds until Will, who was in the lead, missed a turn. Okay, no problem—maybe–my daughter (Will’s mom), Korie, quickly followed him. She’s a great skier and I was confident she would get them home. The rest of us were now behind a fast-moving Bella who made a quick right turn when she should have turned left. My last visual of her occurred as she disappeared over a short drop off (about three feet) onto a road–a REAL road where a car COULD have been driving. Like any grandmother worth her salt (whatever that means), I followed her down the hill to that road, instructing everyone else to stay where they were. As I made my way down to Bella, I knew that the only way back to the path would include a WALK up the hill we just came down. In skiing what goes up, must go down, but the opposite is also true—after a wrong turn, that is.
Once I reached Bella and discovered she was okay, I took my skies off and instructed Bella to do the same, then we started the long walk UP the mountain. Can I just say—walking uphill, carrying skies and poles, in a high altitude, after a long day of skiing, wearing heavy ski boots– is never a good decision, but it was our only way home. The good news, no, the great news, was Bella never complained. She stopped for breaks, but never cried or whined about our situation or asked me to carry her skies. I was very proud of her. Maybe it was my heavy breathing that told her this wasn’t the time for favors. In any case, she was a trooper. We eventually reached the ski path, put our skies on and, with me in the lead, made it home. Safely inside, we asked about Korie and Will. They were still not home. After a frantic few minutes we got a phone call telling us to send a car for them. They came in exhausted from their journey but were safe. Korie was also proud of Will as she told us he never complained either. I truly believe that in serious situations like this was, children know they have no option. For all of us, when we do not have options in a difficult situation, we don’t have the luxury of complaining. In those times, we’re happy to do whatever is necessary to get out of the bad situation. The next day, no one argued when someone proposed that only grownups lead the way home.
These kinds of stories make for great dinner conversation after all the parties involved are safe and warm inside the house, but while you are “in the moment” they can be extremely challenging and scary. I couldn’t help but think of our heavenly Father who so patiently follows us down some very dangerous trails and then gently leads and guides us back to the life-saving path when we’re ready to go home. And when we’re truly ready to find the right path, there will be no complaining or whining. We’ll be so happy that someone loves us with such a mighty power that they would walk up a snow-covered hill with us and lead us home. I love this verse in 2 Corinthians 5:6-8. I especially love the way The Message translates it: “That’s why we live with such good cheer. You won’t see us drooping our heads or dragging our feet! Cramped conditions here don’t get us down. They only remind us of the spacious living conditions ahead. It’s what we trust in but don’t yet see that keeps us going. Do you suppose a few ruts in the road or rocks in the path are going to stop us? When the time comes, we’ll be plenty ready to exchange exile for homecoming.”
Have a great week knowing you serve a God who loves you so much He will run after you and guide you home.