Don’t be afraid and don’t panic for I am with you in all you do. (Joshua 1:9)
When I was much younger, I decided that I was going to learn how to ski. This was before the days of snowboards, so I got a pair of long, thin skis. A group of friends had planned to travel to Killington Ski Resort in Vermont. To prepare, I visited Mt. Wachusett in Princeton, Massachusetts. I later found out that Killington has the greatest vertical drop (3050′) of any mountain in New England. Mt. Wachusett has a prominence of 1001′. Silly me, I thought a couple of runs down the “Bunny” slope would get me ready. Fast forward to the weekend. I should have known I was in trouble when I had a hard time getting on and off the ski lift. Once I finally got settled at the top of the trail, I noticed a sign that had a black diamond on it. My friends told me not to worry about it. Believe it or not, I actually made it down the worst part of the slope without incident. I skied very slowly and cautiously, but I skied. As the group slowly pulled out of sight, I noticed a covered bridge coming up. It quite narrow, so I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep a straight line all the way through. I was pretty excited when I realized that I was going to make it….until I exited the bridge and saw all my friends lined up on both sides of the trail waiting to see how I was going to handle the bump and drop that suddenly appeared. Needless to say, my skill level couldn’t handle it and I dropped to my butt and fell off to the side. But still managed to finish the run (my last run ever, by the way).
A group of family and friends used to vacation at a place called Camp Skyland in South Hero, Vermont. Several of us often went out in boats to explore the shoreline of Lake Champlain. On one of our excursions, we found a series of cliffs that we simply had to climb. Of course once we got to the top, there was only one way that we were going to go down. You guessed it. We jumped. Including the guy who is afraid of heights. I made it and never tried it again.
It was my first time leading the congregation in songs at the beginning of our church service. I had prepared ahead of time so that I had the melodies and the words down. We all stood as I opened the service in prayer and then went right into the songs. I did pretty good for about 20 minutes when an elderly saint of the church interrupted to say, “Can we sit down now?” I never led songs again.
What possible positive thing can come of all these failures? Simply the fact that I tried and realized that those particular activities were not going to be a continuing part of my life? The important thing is that I tried. I would never experience that nagging feeling of, “What if…?” I was able to overcome my fears to try something new. And as Joshua wrote, God was with me in everything I did. And after thinking about it all these years later, I’m awfully glad He was!