Arapaho Basin Ski Area
Expecting to enjoy God’s creation on a beautiful day seems like a plan. Expecting the unexpected was not even on the radar.
A group of Christian friends and I headed to Colorado for a Christian conference. We planned to get there early for some ski time. A good breakfast and time with the Lord got the day going.
Skiing A-Basin seemed like a great idea. High mountain areas at 12,000 feet. Open terrain. Powder. All good. Excitedly my friends and I get into our skis and on the lift to get to the top and begin the descent. We had been on more level ground for a while at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater where alpine skiing is not so good. This was a wonderful occasion.
The first ride up is cold. Brisk. No body heat has built up yet and there is a lot of sitting out in the open air as you go hundreds and thousands of feet into the thinner, more frigid air. You can laugh and joke and swing the chair at the beginning of the ride. Then your lips go numb and it’s hard to form words. Then your feet go to sleep hanging over the seat with ski boots and skis pulling down. Did I mention it was cold?
The views are endless at the top of the world. Snow capped peaks all around. The Master Artist put on His display. Then the end of the lift approaches there is excitement and anticipation. Now the fun begins. But I have to overcome numb lips which aren’t as big of a problem as legs and feet that are frozen and now have fallen asleep. Kicking, lifting, shifting to get some circulation going before the end of the lift and being forced to jump off and ski immediately. The alternative which is often seen at this point is the person gets off the lift and tries to ski, but one leg or the other gives way and they fall on the off ramp. That leaves little room for the skiers who are getting off and have no choice but to get off the chair lift. It can be a mess. You don’t want to be that guy. Everybody has been that guy, but you don’t want to be that guy again if you can avoid it. Blood flow in the extremities recommences and all is good.
Skiing in this pristine white powdery snow is glory. It is like gliding on a cloud. Little snowflakes come off the front of my skis and touch my face saying good morning and welcome. Ahhh.
The area is wide open with lots of powder some of which was knee deep. I moved across the slope and was nearing where the tree line began and it happened. Underneath the blanket of powdery snow was a boulder. My ski tip made contact. My body went airborne. I launched up and out. A forward somersault as I gained air. I saw a tall pine looming ahead. As the mind races at times like those. I was already working on the trajectory which had me firmly planted on the top third of that tree. But the trajectory was interrupted.
My in-flight mental processing knew something was off. I was held as if in giant hands, and placed into the powdery soft snow as if I had just decided to take a break from skiing and sat down. I was stunned. Happily, stunned. I had one ski on. I imagined the other one was shattered. My leg was fine and not even hurting. I climbed through the powder to find the other ski. When I did it was in good shape. I got back in my skis thankful for an unexpected outcome to what looked like the end of my skiing for the day and I still had the rest of the day left on my lift pass. Oh, and there was this guy.
When I stood up from where I had been placed in the snow a man skied over to me and said, “Man!...I thought you were a goner. You were flying through the air and headed towards that tree. (Pause) But then you just stopped. In the air. (Shaking his head) Man, I thought you were dead. (Recovering) Have a good one, man.” You know, I think I just did.
Consider this from Psalms:
For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone. Psalm 91:11-12 (NLT)
I can vouch for the reality of this. I didn’t see an angel, but I felt the tender strong hands snatch me from the air and gently lay me down unharmed.
Obstacles and Landings
You may have times when all is looking smooth and suddenly an unexpected obstacle trips you up. Don’t give up. Keep trusting the God of Wonders. He might just send an angel to give you a hand. “Have a good one, man!”