The French call the groomed ski trails on the slopes the piste. As a snow skier, and having had the opportunity of skiing in the French Alps, I got familiar with seeing the signs on the slopes warning me not to ski off-piste. In the U.S. we call it backcountry or out of bounds skiing and it comes with a warning sign – Ski at your own risk. These parts of the slopes are usually where avalanches happen or an abrupt ending might occur due to a hidden rock or an abundance of trees.
Frankly, it’s not where I like to ski. I know my skiing abilities and I stick to the safety of the well-groomed trails. But I know that skiers who are trained and equipped like to take on the challenge. They are rewarded with the joy of working through the trees, feeling accomplished, and seeing the mountain’s beauty hidden from most skiers.
For most of us skiing on the everyday mountain slopes of life, we just want to stay on the well-groomed trails. But sometimes God calls us to ski off-piste when it comes to our faith and calling. The Bible is full of stories of those who did – Abraham, Moses, Esther, and even more modern day historical men and women who risked their lives and changed the culture like Martin Luther, William Wilberforce, Florence Nightingale, Mother Theresa, and Nelson Mandela. God told us in the Bible that we are to, “taste and see that I am good. (Psalm 34:8).
But in the backcountry of real life where skiing off-piste can be challenging, sometimes even life-threatening, it’s a taste that doesn’t interest many. The thought of suffering or sacrifice is just too great, so we keep things safe. Our busy schedules keep us occupied on the well-groomed trails and bunny hills where it is much easier to cruise without much effort.
A recent Rasmussen Report (Insert -http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/lifestyle/general_lifestyle/march_2016/three_quarters_of_americans_believe_jesus_rose_from_the_dead) found that 77% of Americans believe Jesus rose from the dead. So what do the other 23% think happens when we die? It sounds like they are skiing off-piste and are headed into an abrupt tree.
It’s thrilling to hear that the Christian Church in Africa, Asia, South America, and many other areas have seen a rise in Christianity, but in America and Europe the Church may be skiing on the bunny hills or have taken off into the backcountry. Its followers are losing oxygen by being buried with an avalanche of the world’s enticements, and many have lost their direction. Sadly even some would prefer to stay on the bunny slopes because a deeper knowledge of God is just too challenging. They don’t read the Bible regularly, only occasionally attend church, and pray only when they need something or are trouble. In other words, they like to wear the clothes, hang out in the lodge, and just enjoy the traditions of the Christian lifestyle.
A recent study by the Center For Bible Engagement is revealing about what happens when we decide to ski on the well-groomed piste that God has laid out in scripture. When we read our Bibles four or more times a week it has been statistically proven that it dramatically changes our lives in positive ways. We are less depressed, angry, lonely, make better choices, and generally handle the uncertainties of life better. It’s why I based my devotional, Hope 4 Today: Stay Connected to God in a Distracted Culture, on its findings.
The CBE’s research proved that staying on the piste, – in the Word of God and following God’s well-groomed pathways will effectively guide your life. Jesus doesn’t guarantee that life won’t have challenges or difficulties because He knows it will and said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33). He warns us that there will be sharp curves and possibly trees and rocks even on the well-groomed trails. But God has given us a guide. His son, Jesus, who walked on and off-piste. He gave us His “active Word” (Hebrews 4:12) so that we would be able to handle and negotiate the uncertainties of life.
God doesn’t want us to ski on the bunny slopes. He challenged us to ski into the backcountry of people’s lives and to be rescuers. To bring those who are lost in the avalanche of life back on course. The question is…are you equipped for it?
My husband, Phil Cooke’s, latest book, The Way Back: How Christians Blew Our Credibility and How We Get It Back gives great examples of how the early Church changed the world through acts of kindness. How they chose to ski off-piste and take risks with their lives. They did what Jesus taught. They fed the hungry, took care of the sick, and entered into the suffering of those around them.
Influence Women, a group that I lead in Hollywood through our nonprofit, The Influence Lab, is focused on gathering and empowering individuals of faith working in media and entertainment to be leaders and culture changers. To ski off-piste, challenge the culture and bring the lamp and light of God’s Word into the paths of out of bounds skiers.
As a believer of Christ, it is easy and safe to stay on the bunny slopes but the world today needs equipped believers to go into the boundless areas and bring a shovel of hope with the oxygen of the Bible. We need courageous backcountry skiers to start digging out our world and to help them find a way out of the perils that overwhelm them. We need skiers who are trained to show the casual cruisers how to ski past the rocks and fallen trees and into the paths God has made possible.
Skiing is challenging but the reward is beholding the beauty and wonder of God’s creation. To stand at the top of the mountain and see the vastness of God’s great love and to bring others to see it too.
Ready to go skiing?