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Skiing Without Poles

When people find out that I grew up in Fairbanks, Alaska one of the first questions they often ask is, “What do you even do up there?” My answer: ski. I got into cross-country (nordic) skiing in junior high. My friend David was a big reason for this. He had been skiing practically since he learned to walk. Nowadays he skis professionally and has a few national championships under his belt.


My skiing career is less impressive. In high school I was in the middle of the pack, until my senior year. I had a goal of making varsity which meant I had to be in the top six fastest guys on team of 70. While I wasn’t on a private ski club like most of the other kids, I had the next best thing—David. He became my workout partner and personal trainer.


We did extra strength training. We woke up at 4:30AM to ski before school as well as afterwards. Soon it became clear that the main thing slowing me down was my technique. I had same physical fitness as the top athletes on our team, but their form was so much better than mine.


What did David do? He took away my poles. While ski poles are a great tool, many nordic skiers tend to over rely on them. Just ask any first time skier. They are always complaining how sore their arms are. Yet, there is much more power in the legs. For two weeks, I was forced to clean up my sloppy footwork. It worked! By the end of the season I made varsity and our team ended up getting third at state.


Here’s the point. Sunday gatherings are like ski poles. They are a great tool that God uses, but many Christians have become over reliant on that one hour on a Sunday. In 2020 we were skiing without poles. We learned to worship without the lights and sounds. We were forced to take ownership over our discipleship through spiritual practices. It was a make it or break it moment for many people in their faith.


In 2021, now that people are beginning to return to church, we must remember the lessons we've learned over the past year. Now that we've reintroduced the ski poles, let's still use our legs. God wants us to come back stronger than ever.


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