That’s me dropping in on Parsenn Bowl at Winter Park Resort (on the Mary Jane side)…back in February of 2000, 18 years ago! We call it “The Bowl.” Winter Park is a great ski town. My Uncle and Aunt used to own a bed and breakfast up there called “The Bear Paw Inn.” The top of Parsenn Bowl is above treeline at 12,000 feet and it is for lack of a better term, totally rad! When you hop off the lift and ride off to the side, you immediately see the huge panoramic view from the rim of the peak that spreads out like a big beautiful bowl filled with snow. It is breathtaking, intimidating, and absolutely perfect!
Just about every rider up there, pauses for a moment to breathe, think, and pick their line before they drop in. This is crucial because at the bottom of the mountain is a forest of trees that you have to navigate through. What I love is that you can drop in anywhere! It is wild, free, and exhilarating!
Believing in God can feel like that too. It is scary for people to let go of their lives and trust God. It can feel a lot like standing at the top of a 12,000 foot peak with a board strapped to your feet looking straight down wondering if you made the right choice! Wondering if you can navigate the obstacles and make it through safely.
At the time of that picture I was 21 years young (I’m 40 now) and just a few months away from graduating from the University of Northern Colorado. I had accepted Jesus in the beginning of my freshman year in 1996, and I ended up preaching and ministering on campus for the next four years (glory to God!). I was a Senior looking to start my new life with the love of my life. I also hadn’t been a snowboarder very long.
That’s right. I dropped into Parsenn Bowl with no helmet and very little experience. Probably not my smartest move. It was real windy at the top and it looked a lot bigger once we got up there for sure. I had to sit for awhile and pray before I dropped in. Before that, all I had done were some big blue runs.
Accepting Christ was like that for me too. I didn’t know much about Him when I accepted Him. I just knew I wanted to be delivered from the evil that terrorized our family for four years, I wanted to be forgiven, and I wanted to go to Heaven. I was only 18 when I accepted Jesus. I didn’t have some deep Biblical knowledge. I was introduced to Him by two great Christian guys who shared the Gospel with me, and I received that message into my heart and decided to drop into God and accept Jesus by faith.
Encountering Jesus and the Holy Spirit was much more exhilarating than Parsenn Bowl though! Look, I know hearing about Jesus can be weird. I remember what it felt like to be an unbeliever and hear somebody talking about Jesus. It would make me feel angry, embarrassed, and I would cringe. I know taking that step of faith can feel just like dropping in on a huge run you’ve never done before. Believe me when I say, it is worth it!
I’m no Shaun White, but I ended up “rippin’ it up” that day, and I had the run of my life! My walk with Jesus has felt the same way! There have been plenty of obstacles and challenges to navigate, and at times I have struggled, but God always picked me back up, and I have had some great faith runs too.
Were there times that I got hurt snowboarding after that? Sure, I cracked my head real good at Copper Mountain a couple years before my Celiac diagnosis in 2012. I suffered a concussion, and it was painful. I didn’t stop snowboarding though. I kept practicing, got better, pressed on, and had perfect powder days yet again.
Getting diagnosed with Celiac Disease shook my life and my family’s life to the core. It changed everything for us. I suffered terrible life altering pain. In the beginning of it, my wife had to help me eat and do things because I couldn’t stand and walk on my own. We thought I had cancer, but it was Celiac, and it almost killed me.
The disease severely damaged my small intestine, which left me with another condition called Cachexia. It is known as Wasting Syndrome. I can only get up to around 140-145 pounds tops, and then I lose about 10 pounds over a weeks time. After that, I gain the weight again, then the process repeats. This happens every few weeks every month like clockwork. It’s due to the damaged villi in the lining of my small intestine. When those go, humans can’t absorb nutrients properly. My Celiac is under control through the gluten free lifestyle, but once the villi are gone, they are gone. The damage has been done. I know God can heal me, but for now the thorn remains. I praise Him for the healing He did give me. I’m here and alive and telling the world about Him, and I am grateful for that!
I didn’t stop believing in God because I was diagnosed with a disease just like I didn’t stop snowboarding because I had a bad crash. No, I pressed into God even harder! My faith has grown tremendously during the last six and a half years of suffering, and I am so grateful for God’s love and mercy! It’s not His fault I have Celiac Disease. It’s just part of the fall. I have been carried by the Lord in my time of need and I trust Him and His love for me.
Some of you are standing at the edge of the bowl and you are not sure this Jesus thing is for you. My best advice is, drop in and enjoy the ride!
God bless you all!
“That if you confess, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”