My first time on skis was also my last.
I don’t blame the beautiful Tahoe snow, I don’t blame my companions–though a crash course would have been nice–and the idea that I’m to blame is laughable. No, the burden of culpability lies entirely with the gear I borrowed from a much taller, much more experienced friend.
The skis were too long and I had no idea what to do with the poles. My toes took a beating as they slid back and forth inside the inhospitable boots, the gigantic hot pink snowsuit made me look like a short, fat flamingo, and by far the biggest mistake I made was assuming my taller, more experienced friend had lent me something for my head. But, after scrounging the bag of attire–something I should have done before arriving at Sugarbowl–I was devastated to find no hint of a beanie. No stocking hat. Nothing to keep my mane of curls dry.
Mere seconds after mounting the ski lift, my waist-length hair was covered in icicles, my hands were lost in the cavernous depths of my sleeves, my skis were crossed, and I’d jabbed the unlucky friend sitting next to me with each of my poles.
And then the bunny hill came into view.
I’ll not bore you with the tragedy that was my exit from the ski lift, but as I picked up speed down the steeper-than-expected beginner’s slope, my friend began to yell, “Snowplow! Snowplow!”
Did I mention I could have used a crash course?
Well, I got it. Right into my homeboy who really should have explained what it means to “Snowplow! Snowplow!” After a few more exhausting attempts to wrangle my outfit into compliance, I retired to the ski lodge abdicating victory to the mountain of snow and insanely excited to disrobe.
And that was it. No more skiing. And all because my clothing defeated me.
We’ve all heard the story of David and Goliath. You ever think about what would have happened if that little shepherd boy had attempted to wear King Saul’s armor into battle? The Bible says he tried–this pubescent teenager tried to fit into the battle gear of his much taller, much more experienced king. But after drowning in Saul’s coat of armor, his overlarge helmet, and after strapping a chunky sword on top of it all, David knew that fighting a giant in someone else’s armor was futility at best.
“I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” (1 Sam 17:39)
David understood something that I, in all my ski bunny glory, did not. When marching into battle–and let’s face it, sometimes God sees fit to place giants before us–we’re better served fighting with the gear we’ve tested and tried. Instead of fighting our battles in someone else’s shoes, instead of weilding someone else’s clunky sword, we’re better off brandishing a smaller, leaner slingshot–a weapon we’ve mastered–and stones we can carry without ceremony.
I wonder what the flannelgraph of David and Goliath would have looked like if David had chosen to fight in Saul’s armor? Would God have given him the victory? Would David have found himself in Saul’s favor? Would the Israelites have ended up as slaves to the Philistines?
I don’t know.
What I do know is that a pimply-faced teenager armed with only the weapon he’d mastered and a heart that declared, “The battle is the Lord’s” defeated a giant who rendered an entire army of swords and shields useless.
And that’s something. Unencumbered by the well-intentioned protection of another, David defeated the giant and the course of history was altered forever. There’s something about using the tools we’re given. Something unique about a person who refuses to pick up the sword of another to fight his own battles.
How different would our own lives be if we depended less on the things given to stronger more experienced men, and more on the God who secures the victory and the weapons He’s taught us to fight with?
At this point in my walk with God, I’m asking Him to help me master the tools He’s given. They may be smaller and less glamorous than the tools He’s given to others, but they’re mine and they were given to me by the God who secures the battle.
And I’d rather be a kid moving freely and flinging a stone into the forehead of the enemy than weighted to the ground by weapons I was never intended to heft.
Sounds like freedom to me.
And an awful lot like victory.