What Good is a T-Bar?

by Karl Ihfe

Have you ever tried to learn something new? Maybe a hobby, a second language, or a computer program? When I was a kid my parents would take me, my sisters, and my brother to the mountains of New Mexico to go skiing.

I love to ski, I don’t get to do it much any more, but I sure love it. But you know what I don’t love? Learning how to ski. That wasn’t the most fun I’d ever had. I can still remember on each family trip, the first day was always spent at ski school.

I can’t tell you how many times I fell, usually while trying to figure out how to ride the “T-Bar”. Bend your knees but don’t sit on the bar. Hold on but don’t drop your poles. Look back but keep your eyes forward. I never really figured that thing out.

Though I didn’t like it at the time, I’ve really learned to appreciate ski school and all I learned from it. In fact, serving in college ministry, we took our students skiing a couple of times, and for those who’d never been before, guess what I recommended they do on the first day? Yep, ski school. Why? Because if you’re going to learn how to ski, you need to learn from someone who knows not only a lot about skiing, but who also knows how to ski. You want to learn from someone who has experience on the trails, who’s fallen and gotten back up, and can help you do the same.

Turns out, that’s just as true in other areas of life. Whether at school, work, the ball field, or the band hall, having someone to follow is critical in our development. This is especially true in our spiritual lives. We can each pick up our Bible and learn a lot about God by studying His word, and we should absolutely be doing that. But becoming a disciple of Jesus involves more than memorizing a lot of facts about Him. It involves following in His footsteps.

This is what James, Jesus’ brother, was trying to communicate when he wrote, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” James was speaking from experience. He knew what it was like to hear his older brother speak, but not listen to what he said. It’s like hearing your ski instructor warn you about an ice patch, and then heading out on the slopes and ignoring the advice. It’s not just foolish, it’s dangerous.

This spring we are following the footprints of Jesus. My hope is that as you read through this issue of By the Way magazine, you’ll be inspired by all the ways Broadway is seeking not only to learn what Jesus did, but to put his wisdom into practice. It’s our version of ski school. Only in this one, you won’t have to worry about that pesky “T-bar”.

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