I took my eight year old son snow skiing a few weeks ago. It’s kind of become “our thing” and it provides really great quality time for father, son bonding. Levi is quite the skier for his age, and for the past several years that he has been snow skiing, has never used poles. Most young skiers and typically encouraged not to.
Recently, after a few runs, Levi decided that he wanted to try skiing with poles. I think his motivation is that he would look cooler if he used them! I went back into the lodge and found him a pair of poles that were suggested for his height. He fumbled around with them, trying to get used to the feeling of having to hold something while skiing. Upon exiting the chairlift, he got one of the poles caught under a ski and tumbled to the ground. He fell a couple of times on the run down because he was thinking more about holding the poles than he was turning and paying attention to the course in front of him. At the end of the run, he said, “maybe I’ll wait another year to try the poles, Dad.”
Ski poles really do serve a functional purpose. They help balance, they help in turning, they help with pushing off, and they help with mobility on flat terrain. I personally couldn’t imagine skiing without poles. But for small children, full of agility and energy, poles usually prove to be more of a hindrance than a help. I was actually proud of Levi for losing the poles instead of trying to keep them, just to look cool.
It made me think of a verse of Scripture, “Let us also lay aside every weight, and the sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1). As the author of Hebrews compares the Christian life to a race, he says that not only can sin can trip us up, but weights can slow us down. These weights don’t necessarily have to be sinful practices in and of themselves, but could be anything that might weigh us down from focusing fully on the race that God has placed in front of us.
Ski poles are good, but my eight year old realized they were not good for him in this season of life. They were unnecessary weight. In the same way, certain things, activities, people, hobbies, etc. might be wholesome and edifying for some, but depending on our season in life, they might become dead weight that can trip us up and throw us off course.
I’m convinced I must continuously evaluate the “weights” in my own life and, with God’s help, cast them off and throw them aside. This walk of faith is too important to willingly permit unnecessary baggage to weigh us down!