Thursday, July 25 2024 - 12:09 PM
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The Side Trail

“Hey dad, do you want to make a side trail with me?” My son Michael and I were just about to dismount the chairlift at a small ski mountain where we were spending the day, and his question came out of the blue. “This trail is through the woods,” he continued, “and it’s really beautiful.” Throughout my son’s teen years, I have tried to be intentional about saying “yes” to his requests if they are reasonable. He’s a good kid, and we have grown close because of the many things we’ve experienced together. “Sure,” I responded…” you lead, and I’ll follow.”

We dismounted the chairlift, and I waited off to the side on my skis while he fiddled with a strap on the right binding of his snowboard. “You ready, Dad?” he said with a smile. “Ready as I’ll ever be,” I replied. How could I have possibly known that I wasn’t ready?

Yard Sale!

Michael gestured off to the left as we skimmed up over the ridge that would take us to the main trail. “There’s the trail, Dad,” he said with a smile. It was a slender expanse of snow that seemed to meander lazily through the woods. Although it could only accept one person at a time, I recall thinking, “This is going to be nice.” After about 20 feet into the side trail, I knew this would not end well. The terrain was rough, full of moguls, and not at all what the ridge appeared to be.

Yard sale! I’ve heard the term, but up until this encounter, I had never personally experienced it. Imagine a 6′ 3″ adult male losing control of his skis and pole. Then you’ve imagined what it might have looked like. It was a surreal mix of exhilaration and terrifying wonderment as I flailed to regain my balance. My life didn’t flash before my eyes, but I quickly contemplated how many bones I was about to break as I flew flummoxed through the air.

The Main Trail

I landed with a twisted, sickening “thud,” but after taking a moment to catch my breath, it was clear that I wasn’t seriously injured. I wouldn’t have to be taken out on a stretcher by the ski patrol. So I was thankful and painfully collected the strewn pieces of equipment along the trail. I returned to the main run and skied to the lodge. We still laugh about the “killer” side trail that looked like such an innocent ride through the woods.

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me'” (John 14:6, NASB).

I’m often tempted to take side trails in my life that may look perfectly benign from my vantage point. I’ve been tripped up because I didn’t fully recognize the terrain I was entering. Jesus is the “main trail.” Whenever I’ve stubbornly headed towards my ideas of debating doctrine, concentrating on good works, and focusing on myself, I’ve almost always found myself doing a spiritual “yard sale” of sorts. Jesus is the author and finisher of my faith, and whenever I take another “side trail,” it’s disastrous.

If you liked this, you might also like Skiing Saddleback 

Michael Temple writes from North Dakota.

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About Michael Temple

Michael Temple

writes from Grand Forks, North Dakota.

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