In my younger days as a youth minister I was undaunted.  In fact, when I was at seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, I lost my daunt.  Nowhere was this more evident than on my first youth ski trip.  (As I grew older and wiser and left youth ministry my daunt returned. These days, I have it under control, although there are nights when I  drink regular coffee after 8:00.) Back to my first ski trip. It was Winter Park, Colorado, in April of 1986, and I was Youth Minister at Calvary Baptist Church in Little Rock, Arkansas.  Some of the youth who survived that trip are now on Facebook and will confirm every sordid detail of my experience if they read this.

It was me and my athletic ability against the mountain.  The mountain won.  Hands down.  Hands up.  Hands in the trees.  Hands with a death-defying grip on the ski poles. Hands everywhere.  Other formerly-attached and extremely helpful body parts were just a distant memory. Like an order of Waffle House hashbrowns I was scattered, splattered, and smothered all over the bunny slopes. I landed in the most heinously-contorted body configurations known to mankind, positions once thought possible only through a macbre game of Stephen King-led "Twister."

My road to incompetence was paved with well-intentioned and well-paid for ski lessons. After the first 15 minutes of the first lesson, my classmates (all under the age of 12) concluded that I was a toad, although they did not use the word "conclude." Over the next 3 hours I did nothing to alter their amazingly astute observation.  Because I never mastered the somewhat timely art of changing direction (not to mention the somewhat timelier art of actually stopping) the orange plastic temporary fences around me had an unusually short lifespan.  I fared no better once we took the chairlift to the top.

Riding in something similar to a garage sale  lawn chair, dangling like a baby in a harness and draped with enough ski equipment/clothing for a polar expedition, I was unprepared for the concept of jumping out of said moving lawn chair at 40 m.p.h. and remaining upright.  Some innocent 6-year old helped me up and aimed me down the hill.  In my efforts to wedge, turn, stop, or open my eyes, I wiped out 14 people, 3 fences, 7 bushes, and 1 completely surprised moose.  For the safety of everyone and the environment, I quit. I had no intention of walking down the mountain in those designed-by-Frankenstein boots that did not inspire Nancy Sinatra's song of almost 50 years ago, so I called a Toad Truck and got a lift. In the twilight of my ski years I have found the words to an old adage to be quite comforting - "When the going gets tough, the really inept skiers go to the lodge and drink hot chocolate."

On that ski trip, the mountain won.  On the night of the crucifixion the disciples faced their own "mountain."  They had experienced plenty of ups and down. Now  Jesus was dead. All their years of training, the lessons on how to deal with mountains  were for naught.  All hope was gone. The damage was done.  The mountain of Calvary had won. Life was over . . . or so it appeared. Enter God. Enter the resurrection. A new twist on an old saying . . . the mountain became a molehill.

We are preparing for Easter. Easter is hope in the midst of hopelessness, love in the depths of hatred, encouragement at the height of depression, and new life in the shadow of death. Through faith in God's power -- illustrated uniquely by the resurrection -- any mountain can become a molehill.  What mountain are you facing this Easter?  Whatever it is no mountain is so high that God cannot turn it into a molehill. For you see, God does not necessarily change the mountain . . . but he does change our perspective. See you on the slopes.



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