Recently I took a trip to Big Sky, Montana for a couple days of skiing. It sounds fun - except I don't ski, or not well, anyway. I had one nightmare of an experience in high school where I had to be carried down the mountain, and I had successfully mastered a few hills (not a mountain) a couple years ago in the Midwest (aka the flat country). Other than those two times, I hadn't had any practice, so needless to say, I was a little nervous.
The first day went pretty well. I hit the bunny hill with kids that came up to my knees, eavesdropped on the instructor, and tried to look like I was coordinated. After a few attempts, we hit the chairlift, and it wasn't long before I didn't mind a little speed coming down some of the shorter green runs. I took the rest of the afternoon to catch up on some rest so I'd be fresh for the next day.
The following morning we went to the other side of the mountain, and I was really starting to feel comfortable on some of the easier hills. After one run, the girl working at the chair lift told me it was time to ride the "big kid chair" - that she had seen me skiing and I was ready for more of a challenge. I didn't mind the idea, so up we went. I just didn't realize how far up we were going - all the way to the top. (Did I mention we were in the MOUNTAINS?) There was one more chair for the crazy people that ski off cliffs, but essentially, we were at the top. I got off the lift and panicked. I could see forever. I felt like I was in the clouds - and then I looked down. I wanted to smack myself. Everyone knows not to look down!
We started down a short trail, came to a clearing, and I was faced with the steepest hill I had seen yet. I froze. My heart started racing and I felt the tears coming. I knew there was only one way down, and I felt trapped. I couldn't turn around, and I was too scared to go down.
In the middle of my panic, I cried out to God, and a sense of peace washed over me. I knew I wasn't alone. I made it down the hill just fine. In fact, by the afternoon I was going down the more difficult blue runs with no problems. I discovered something through the whole process: Even though it was a lot easier to ski down the little hills, it also brought less satisfaction. It was safe, but it wasn't as rewarding. It was harder work and more of an adrenaline rush with the more steep, longer runs, but it was also a bigger payoff. At the end of the day I was left wondering what else in my life was being inhibited by fear.
I can think of one thing in particular that I have been struggling with lately. I've been so afraid to let it go, and I've been taking the easy way out. This week God reminded me that it might be hard, but it is so worth it to let go and trust Him. Life with God is supposed to be exhilirating! I know I might even crash every now and then, but I'm starting to think I'd rather do that than sit on the sidelines, or hang out on the bunny hill. :-) Now I know what I was missing!