This past weekend the church had its first Meet-Up. If you missed this and have no idea what I’m talking about, every month we are going to have a free/low cost meet-up event for anyone and everyone in the church to come hang out together. You can be checking all our normal means of communication to see what’s coming up in the future. This past weekend we met up at the Capulin Snowplay Area for some sledding fun. It was great! We had Elders, Staff, Deacons, and Congregation there and we all had a blast sliding down a giant hill of snow and ice. There may have been a few crashes, but it was worth it.
Now, the Capulin Snowplay Area is super nice and safe with dedicated paths to get to the top of the hill so no one gets plowed over by sleds and fences surrounding the entire area to ensure no one accidentally goes flying down/off of the mountain. This however, got me thinking about a story from my childhood.
When I was a kid, my family went sledding at a popular snowplow area in the mountains in Washington, where we lived. I don’t specifically remember this, but as the story goes, the sledding area was basically a giant bowl, and you could climb to the top and sled down and come to a stop at the bottom of the bowl. Well, I don’t know if I was too light or too heavy or what, but on this particular occasion I slid down and across the bottom of the bowl and up and over the other side. There were no fences.
One of my parents, I don’t remember which one, started running after me, and the one that wasn’t running says, “I’ve never seen anyone run that fast. I don’t mean through snow. I don’t mean while having a baby strapped to their back (my little brother or sister). Just in general. I’ve never seen anyone run that fast.”
You are generally told to avoid trees if you are sledding/skiing/snowboarding/etc… However, in this case I was saved by doing the exact opposite. As it turns out, after I went up and over the far side of the bowl I ran into a tree, which stopped me from continuing down and off the mountain.
So, as we were sledding this past weekend I was reminded of that story, and that story got me thinking about life. In our lives we are constantly surrounded by wonderful, fun, joyful things, blessings from God and reflections of His majesty, but we are also surrounded by danger, fear, and torment. This world was created by God and broken by Satan and us, and reflections of both of those events echo in almost everything we do, but we need to make sure that we are aware of both.
Jesus prayed, “I am not praying that You take them out of the world but that You protect them from the evil one.” And David, in the 23rd Psalm, both describes the green pastures and still waters and says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me;” In this world there are dangers. There is risk and danger in every action that we take, every choice that we make. However, we need not be afraid, and we most certainly do not need to let fear paralyze us, keep us from acting, from moving forward.
There was danger at the sledding bowl when I was a kid, but we went sledding anyways. Upon seeing their son disappear from view, my parents were, I’m sure, terrified, but they acted, they chased, despite the fact that there was no way they would be able to catch me. Had it been in God’s plan for me to go over the side of the mountain that day, I would have. Sometimes God’s protection of us is in the physical sense, however, more often than not, His protection is in the spiritual sense. He is protecting us from the evil one, protecting our heart and soul, and sometimes His protection comes in the form of a tree that a child slams into while sledding.
The point is this, we are surrounded by both good and evil. Make sure that you are aware of both. Secondly, don’t let the evil frighten you and keep you from moving forward in your life, in your faith, in doing what God has called you to do. He has promised that you will walk through scary arenas, but that He will be with you. Third, acknowledge that God’s protection and the fact that He is by your side does not mean that nothing bad will happen to you or those you love. In this world you will have trouble, but this world is only a temporary pit stop when compared to eternity, and our eternal soul is what God is most concerned with. Finally, keep your eyes open to the ways that God is protecting you/has protected you, even if it seems like something bad in the moment. His ways are not our ways, but they are the best ways.