Written by The Rev. Dr. Carolyn Allen - Heartland Church of Fort Wayne
“How am I going to get down this mountain? I’ll never make it!” My heart was gripped with terror, and tears started to come to the surface as I stood at the top of a Black Diamond Run on the ski slopes of Colorado. My cheeks were rosy from the cold. I could feel the dampness and smell the freshness of the mountain air. A beautiful moment. Except for the fact It was the first time I had ever been skiing, and all but one friend had already left on their journey down the slope.
In preparation for this trip with our friends, who invited us, we checked out books, did special exercises to strengthen our muscles, and went with anticipation of enjoyment and (to be honest) some anxiety on my part. We even took some lessons on the bunny slope.
But in no way was I prepared to ski on a Black Diamond Run – the most difficult graded run at the resort. Our group had taken the ski lift to the top of the mountain to have lunch and hot cocoa at a special lodge. Delightful, right? Well, I didn’t think about the reality of what goes up must come down. And I didn’t know it was a Black Diamond Run. I was doing well to stay upright on the bunny slope!
My friend, Jimmy, was an excellent skier and tenderhearted with me about my dilemma. He encouraged, “You can do this! I will help you get down this mountain.” And he proceeded to ski backwards all the way down, holding onto my hands, leading and coaching me.
At one point, I clearly remember him saying the following words to me because I was focusing on my feet to see how they were positioned and where they were going. I was desperately trying to remember what I had learned in the morning class on the bunny slope. Jimmy instructed, “Stop looking down. Instead look up. Keep your eyes on me and where you are going. You will make it!”
We made it to the bottom. I can’t say I was always in an upright position, but with triumph I was proud to be able to declare, “On my first ski trip, I went down a Black Diamond Run!”
I will never forget the lesson learned about the importance of where I put and kept my focus, which was crucial for success in my mission to get down that mountain in one piece.
My friends and I have had some good laughs over the years about that ski trip, but I have used that lesson many times in my personal life and in helping others grasp a principle of the Kingdom of God. That experience has helped Hebrews 12:1-5 come alive and active in my life. The application of this truth is real to me. I can still see that daunting slope right in front of me, hear the whipping wind, and feel the terror of the situation. But I also hear the encouraging words and feel the presence of a friend to take the journey with me. Once again, everything within me is on alert and ready for action, as I fix my eyes on Jesus and take His hand to face whatever overwhelming situation is before me.
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:1-2 NKJV). (The Greek word for “looking” or “fixing” means “to look away from one thing in order to see another, to concentrate the gaze upon.”)
Are you currently facing a situation or relationship that is causing anxiety, frustration, or discouragement? What is filling your vision? What Black Diamond Run are you facing? Your focus will determine your perspective and will become your reality. What outcome does God have waiting for you? What focus will allow that to happen?
As you sort out these questions, pray this prayer:
Lord Jesus, in this moment I desire to allow my thoughts to be fixed on You. What thought do you want me to embrace so I can walk in the Spirit while exercising faith? I turn from the fearful, anxious thoughts about what could happen and instead ask, “What thought, scripture, song, or picture do You want me to see, hear, or sense?” I am asking and listening for Your truth.
Listen to the story of how the classic hymn,“Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus,” was written.