Monday, January 13, 2014

Lean Forward, Plan Ahead, and Commit

So, this past Thursday, with a weekend off preaching (I write on Thursdays), the family and I all packed up the car to have a day of skiing (This is not a picture of me skiing, I should hasten to add).  If you live in Colorado you know that the clouds dumped about 6 inches of fresh powder on the mountains near where we live.  It was into the powder that we were heading.  It was into the powder that we were planning to ski.

Now, it has been a few years since I have skied in fresh, deep powder.  I grew up in Salt Lake City, and when we would ski there, a place that is legendary for it's powder skiing, we would often have bunji chords connected to our skis in case our skis became disconnected from our bindings, and forever lost under the snow.  It had been awhile since I skied in such conditions.  If you have never skied in powder, it is like wading through a Louisiana swamp that comes up to your waste.  Skiing in powder is like skiing in a snowstorm, that is just around you (as the picture shows).  It is like slogging through mud or quicksand.  The force of the snow against your legs slows you down.  The blast of snow in your face, makes you wish you hand wind-shield wipers on your goggles.  It's fun, but it's a challenge.

There are three things that I remember from my Utah ski days that are important to remember when skiing in powder.  They are:

Lean Forward, Plan Ahead, and Commit

The tendency is to want to lean back when doing this kind of skiing, but that actually can make your skiis rise, and pull you out of the powder, and then crash.  Even though you are uncertain about how deep the powder may be which you are coming up upon, you must lean forward.  You can't make quick turn decisions when skiing in snow up to your waist either.  You have to be thinking a lot further ahead.  And most important, you must commit to the decisions you make on your ski route.  The worst thing can be to get nervous, and then want to turn a different direction.  When your skiis are six inches under snow, a hasty turn can mean an injured knee or ankle.

You see where I am going with this.  This same formula:

Lean Forward, Plan Ahead, and Commit

is a good one for leadership and life as well.  Leaning Forward can be equated to having faith.  We must have faith in God, and lean into the future, whatever that may be.  Paul reminds us of this in his incredible book to the Philippian church, "Forgetting what is behind, and straining forward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Phil. 3:14).  You can always tell Christ followers who are leaning forward, as opposed to those who are leaning backward.  Those who lean forward are more hopeful, positive, there is an excitement in their eye about what the future will bring.  Those who lean backward are often marked by regret, negativity, guilt, second guessing.

Planning ahead and committing to our decisions speak for themselves.  As a pastor, I am always planning way ahead.  For example, a friend gave me an idea for how to light candles on Christmas Eve next year, a whole year away.  I have the concept for my Easter message already, honing it in my mind.  A great painter once told me that painting a beautiful picture is not about perfect strokes of the brush, it is about continual refinement.  The further ahead we plan, the better the end product is.

Well, that's it.  A simple blogpost, but a deep (6 inch, powder-deep) bit of advice,

All For Now,

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