Although it seemed to take longer than normal to get here, winter has certainly arrived in the Shenandoah Valley as evidenced by snow cover and single digit temperatures. Such frigid conditions set the stage for some excellent skiing, or so I’m told.
My last skiing excursion was during my college days years ago. The Virginia Tech Agricultural Education Society usually took a ski trip each year providing great opportunities for fellowship and pain. On this particular trip, the AES visited Winterplace in West Virginia for an evening of recreation.
Since we could invite friends, I did. As Mark and I were riding up on the ski lift, we saw below us a more advanced slope. The gentle downhill path continued to the left with an alternative slope to the right that dropped like a meteor. We discussed the stupidity required to take it.
During our discussion, however, Mark suggested we try it. When I objected on the basis of good sense and prolonged life, he mentioned something about cowardly chickens. I didn’t want to wear those feathers.
When the lift dumped us out at the top, Mark and I got separated as we both started down the gentle upper portion of the route. As I meandered down the mountainside alone, I came to that point where two slopes diverged into a dark gray wood.
Which would I choose? As I deliberated, I determined that nobody was going to call me chicken. So in a moment of temporary insanity, I veered right and dropped off the edge of the earth.
In no time, I was traveling faster than a speeding bullet. The frosty air stung my cheeks and my scarf flew horizontally behind me. I simultaneously experienced great exhilaration and extreme terror. Since my skiing skills had not advanced beyond snowplowing and since there was little or no snow to plow, all I could do was squint and pray on the slick ice.
As I sped along with my life passing before me, I promised God that if He got me safely to the bottom, I would never make that same mistake again. He did and I haven’t. Somehow or the other, I stayed upright and miraculously arrived at the lodge below.
A little later in the evening as I was still praising God for sparing my life and limbs, I bumped into Mark. I asked how he liked the black diamond. “Oh man, I got to the top of that hill and decided there was no way I was ever going to do that.”
While I don’t remember my exact words, I think they included a reference to poultry. I felt a bit superior about having conquered that same fear, but I also felt a lot angry at him for not following through with his own dare.
As I reflected on this later, however, I realized how I had let pride nearly destroy me. My determination to avoid the label of scaredy-cat could easily have resulted in numerous broken bones or worse. Pride overcame good sense and resulted in very foolish actions.
I wish I could say that was the last time that happened. Too often our vanity and ego get the better of us and cause us to take very dangerous routes. They may not be physical slopes as mine was that evening, but instead, they may even be worse in areas of integrity or morality.
God gave us common sense and good judgment for a reason and we endanger both ourselves and others whenever we allow pride to overpower them. As Solomon wisely observed in Proverbs 16:18, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” In my case it was nearly literal.
As we enjoy watching the professional skiers at the Olympics and as others enjoy the local slopes, let’s remember the slippery slopes of pride and avoid them with God’s help.
George Bowers is the Senior Pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren and has authored sixteen books including six volumes of his original poetry in Valley Verses. They are available at Four Star Printing and Fort Valley Nursery. He can be reached through www.georgebowersministries.com or at email@example.com.