I heard something yesterday that took me back to when, years ago (and before we moved to Iowa), Kevin and I used to take a “Let’s Find Winter” trip every January. We’d go to snowy places and do snowy things and have some good, snowy fun. By far, my favorite of those trips was to Lake Placid, New York. We stayed in an incredible lodge in the Adirondacks, which paid grand homage to the Great Camps of the Gilded Age, and did just about every type of snow activity available, including things like outdoor-on-a-pond ice skating, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, an evening horse-drawn sleigh ride, dog-sledding, and tobogganing.
(No, we didn’t ski. It was so cold that trip that we had ice on the inside of our very, very nice hotel room door in the morning, and the wind chills were so low on the mountain, that they closed it. No Olympic run for Kevin. Me? Heck no. Madonna might say “Papa don’t preach,” but I say “Mama don’t ski.”)
It was all really fun, but one of the most memorable was the tobogganing. If you’re unfamiliar with it, tobogganing is like a mix between sledding and a luge, in that you get on a long sled with more than one person, and shoot down a tube onto a frozen body of water (at least that’s how they had it set up in Lake Placid). Now, the tobogganing people had their set up on one side of the lake, while the dog-sledding people took up residence on the other. It appeared they’d been peacefully sharing space, without incident, for a good long while. While we were waiting in the tobogganing line, we could see the team of 8 or 10 dogs tearing across that frozen tundra (how do they do it?), their driver ‘mushing’ them along, with a sled of passengers attached. Finally, our reverie was broken when the people in front of us were called.
Now this was a large group made up of pretty large people. Most groups were 2-3 people in size, which is what they were encouraging, but this was a group of 5 and they wanted to go all together. The toboggan guy was visibly worried, and tried to talk them out of it, saying that it just wasn’t very safe to have that many on one sled, but he was more concerned about their combined weight and didn’t know how to tactfully address it. Very belligerent, the self-appointed leader of their group took matters into his own hands and ordered the rest onto the sled. They got on and he pushed that sucker off himself.
You might think the weight slowed them down, or that it would cause a problem on the ice, but no. The extra weight caused them to pick up momentum, so that by the time they got to the end of the tube and hit the ice, they were flying.
The toboggan guy, horrified and completely without control, watched helplessly as the dog sled people came around the curve in the lake. Typically, they timed their departures around each other, but when this team of tobogganers took matters into their own hands, all he could do was hope it turned out okay.
As if in slow motion (but in truth at high speed) the extra weight of all those people shot the toboggan a LOT further across the ice than usual, and directly into the dog sled zone. When the driver of the dogs saw what was happening he tried to veer but it was too late. In a cartoon-like moment of mayhem, dogs and people and equipment crashed together, all spinning out on the ice and/or pitching high into the air. It was a horrific sight to see.
So, what did I hear that made me think of this?
If you’re going to fly like lightning, you’re going to crash like thunder.
Really, this doesn’t just apply to stubborn tobogganers carrying too much weight. It applies to us. At least it does to me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve decided to take matters into my own hands, and just shoved off, going on ahead of God. Taking off when He doesn’t go fast enough for me, or doesn’t want me to do something the way I want to do it, or is telling me no, when all I want is a big ol’ YES. And, I’m here to tell you that every time – EVERY TIME – I have crashed and burned in grand style, often taking other, innocent people down with me.
Flying like lightning.
Crashing like thunder.
It’s not worth getting ahead of God. It’s not worth the risk to yourself, or others. Fortunately, all those in that icy incident were (incredibly) okay – even the dogs – but they weren’t without injury. No one ever really emerges unscathed from flying ahead.
There’s a lot of credibility to listening to instructions, even if they don’t sound as much fun at the time. Trust me. Or just ask those people. Incidentally, they’d also probably tell you that if you’re part of a group of 5 adults who’ve just put away a huge lunch, to stay away from tobogganing.
Don’t say you haven’t been warned!
“Then he added, “Pay close attention to what you hear. The closer you listen, the more understanding you will be given—and you will receive even more.” Mark 4:24 NLT
“Listen to the words of the wise; apply your heart to my instruction.” Proverbs 22:17 NLT
“Are your ears awake? Listen…” Revelation 3:22 MSG
“but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31 ESV