While skiing in Maine a few days ago, I came across several skiers gathered around a guy who was face-down in the snow.
A member of the ski patrol arrived about the same time I did. I stopped and offered to assist as needed, since I was an EMT years ago. The fallen skier groggily identified himself as Ron. He was, in a phrase, not quite with us.
No one had witnessed the crash, but Ron’s skis had popped off far uphill from where he lay in the snow. His eyes were open but glazed. His eyeglasses had left a firm impression on the bridge of his nose and cut his face. When asked what year he was born, Ron answered, “1953.” Asked his age, Ron had no answer. Like an NFL quarterback whose bell has been rung, Ron needed help. He was given a sled ride down the mountain to be further evaluated.
Encountering Ron reminds me of one of the reasons we need Christ’s Church. Some think that they can be a Christian without being tied in to a local church. Hogwash. I can skip two meals a day and still stay alive, but wouldn’t recommend it. Three square is the better way to go. Connecting personally to a local church is similar, bringing with it important benefits. One is the help available when you fall.
The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Christians in Galatia, reminds us of our role as members of heaven’s “ski patrol,” writing, “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
Carry each other’s burdens. When one gets tripped up and takes a face plant, those who are still steady on their skis should stop and lend an assist. Gently get him on the sled. Carefully bring him down the mountain. Practice a bit of good spiritual medicine, nurturing him back to his feet. And then remind him that now that he has been helped back up, he has a role to play in stopping to help others, as a member of the team.
I trust Ron is okay today. He certainly got the help he needed, from a team, immediately. I hope you, along with others who are steady on their feet, stop the next time you see a fellow Christian face down in the snow.