By Vanita Joines
“Hold on! Don’t let go.”
I craned my neck back at these words and dug my gloved fingers even deeper into the iced snow that was my only contact with the earth. “Ok,” I replied, although I had no other thought than to hold on for dear life.
“I can’t believe I’m going to die on a side of a snow tubing mountain.” I thought to myself. I braved a look behind me. That was a mistake. My eyes took in a string of onlooking snow tubers silently watching my mortification. They snaked up the hill which was steep, slippery, and snowy. My best friend was right behind me and I could see the frightened look in her face. Also the slight amusement at my stupidity.
How does one get into situations such as these?
For me, I think it comes fairely natural. As a child I was always landing myself in life/death situations. When I was 3 I skewered my eye with a pencil. At the age of 4 I literally hung myself by the neck on a jump rope in my stairwell. Being 5 turned out well for me, I narrowly missed being struck by lightning in my driveway (aparrantly there was strange purple and blue light surround me). And now this.
The weekend had started out innocently enough. Enjoying a junior high youth retreat high up in the snow covered mountains. The speakers were good, the boys were smelly, the food was fattening and raunchy. Pretty typical prepubescent gathering.
One of the highlights of the weekend was an evening of snow play fun. Tubing, snowboarding, and skiing. Being a bit of a wimp when it comes to sports, I chose to snow tube, thinking of course that this was the safest thing I could do on a mountain. The evening was fun and we were all having a great time. I think I had gone up once or twice and enjoyed a nice safe ride down the hill. I just never imagined I should’ve worried about my ride up the hill.
If any of you have ever been snow tubing you know the drill. You pick a tube out. You wait in line to be attached to the pulley thing that slowly drags you up the hill while you sit nice and cozy in your tube. Well that all work out fine but there is always a certain spot where a sign says “GET OUT OF TUBE HERE”! For some reason that always frightened me and being a bit clumsy I was always worried of not getting out in time or tripping and making myself look like an idiot. I never realized the reason that sign was strategically placed there was because a strip of carpet was right beside it and landing on the carpet would keep you from slipping to your death. Suffice it to say I panicked and I got out of my tube a good 5 feet too soon.
It was the most mortifying experience of my young life. As I jumped out of my tube my boots slipped on the ice and I fell to my stomach. I started slipping down the hill and somehow knew my life was over. I managed to claw my hands into a section of ice and held tight.
The young man who yelled at me to hold on scrambled to my rescue.
“Ahhh,” I thought to myself, “this is so worth it because I’m going to be gallantly rescued by a dashing man and my friends will be jealous.”
The next thing I know this “dashing man’s” boot is in my face and he’s yelling “grab onto my boot.” Another young man was holding onto his hands and by this they slowly pulled me up to safety.
As soon as I reached the summit all of the guys on top of the hill cracked up laughing, including my rescuer. I was so humiliated that all I could do was mutter a thank you, grab my tub and continue on my way.
As I was thinking of this story I was reminded of how many times being rescued isn’t as pretty as you think it’ll be. I never imagined the biggest rescue of my adolescent years would be grabbing onto a dirty boot and having an uncivilized boy pull me to safety. I never thought I would be stupid enough to be holding onto dear life on the side of a snow tubing hill.
But how many times do we get into messes that require some elbow grease to clean up? I admit to not wanting to be rescued sometimes. Whether it’s from my own addictions or my character flaws or from habits that I’m comfortable with.
But then all of the sudden Jesus is there in your life, reminding you that you need rescuing whether you like it or not. Whether we fight the attempts or embrace our Savior, the process of being saved is always hard and painful.
I’ll remember this the next time I’m about to fall to my death on a snow tubing hill.