During a Christmas break when I was in college, I went downhill skiing in Minnesota with a couple of my friends. I had never been skiing before, but I was excited. My excitement, though, was that of ignorance and would not last long.
After unsuccessfully learning how to traverse so that I would not go straight down the slopes too fast, I decided that I had had enough of the bunny hills. They were for children learning to ski, after all, and my two buddies were off enjoying the big hills!
My foolish pride then led me to try one of the longest and steepest hills on the course. Furthermore, it had not snowed recently, so the hills were covered with artificial snow, which had already turned to ice.
As I began to head down the black diamond and was picking up more and more speed, I thought to myself, “This is much more fun than those bunny hills.” That feeling of excitement quickly turned into terror, though, as I realized I had to figure out a way to slow down and turn or come to a stop, so that I would not pummel the many people skiing and walking in various directions at the bottom of the hill.
The only thing I knew to try was to turn my skis inward to create a snowplow effect for the purpose of slowing down. Because I was rocketing down the hill at what felt like 100 miles per hour, however, my inward snow plow was not working. Running out of time, I decided to “slowly” squat down until my butt hit the ground, hoping that would cause me to drag my rear to an eventual stop.
As you might expect, my strategy was ill-advised and ineffective, at least for the purposes of a smooth stop. The moment my rear hit the ice, I began flipping and rolling in such a violent manner that I lost my skis and hit my head at least a few times. The resulting headache was with me the rest of the day, even as I sat “comfortably” in the ski lodge while my friends enjoyed skiing successfully. Miraculously, I did not break any bones, and if I did get a concussion, I am sure it was only a minor one.
The fact is, I was not ready to ski that day, particularly down a steep hill. I did not yet adequately know how to ski, and barring a miracle, I was not going to be good at it so quickly. I was (and still am) inadequate, and being a good downhill skier is impossible for me on my own. I would need an incredible amount of time, training and additional skill that I do not possess.
In a similar but much more important sense, Christian discipleship is impossible on our own. We need Christ, and we need His church. We need His Word, and we need His help.
This morning, I preached through Mark 9:2-32 on “The Impossibility of Discipleship.” I think it is critical that we all understand how impossible it is to be who God has called us to be without complete and absolute dependence on Him.
Sometimes, things are impossible. Without Jesus, discipleship is always impossible.