Uncovering the New Year

It was only a light snowfall, but my brother and I knew we were in trouble. We stood at the top of the ski slope and rebuked ourselves for having driven to the Laurentian Mountains north of Montreal for a day’s downhill skiing without either of us remembering to bring goggles or sunglasses.

At the best of times, we both possess the forgetfulness of an Etch-A-Sketch, but this was first-class numbskullery. Anyone who skis knows that when you’re colliding with snowflakes at sixty miles an hour they can sting the eyes and inhibit vision no matter how few there are. Keeping your peepers closed is, of course, not an option unless you also want to collide at sixty miles an hour with a spruce tree. But having discovered that the Oakleys, Burtons and Ray-Bans available at the onsite ski shop were more expensive than picking up a steakhouse dinner tab for an NFL team, we elected to do our best Clint Eastwood squint all day.

Marshall and I shifted on our skis, feeling the flakes collect on our eyelashes. “Nice knowing you,” said my brother. We launched ourselves down the mountain. Marshall has always been more of a daredevil on the slopes than I, and so, while I zig-zagged along the run, he preferred a straight shot down the middle like a runaway train. About halfway down, the train derailed. My brother lost his balance and cartwheeled about thirty yards, each bone-jarring impact with the slope spewing geysers of powder into the air. Finally coming to a stop, he lay face down in the snow, splayed like a dead starfish.

I skied down next to him and spoke in the anxious tones of a concerned brother: “Nice wipe-out, spaz!”

Still face down, he managed a muffled “That was awesome!”

I continued down the hill. When Marshall caught up to me at the ski lift I noticed something different about him. Oh sure, there was the swelling upper lip the size of a dog’s chew toy, and his ears were packed with snow like they were waffle cones, but there was something else too. He had goggles on.

“They were buried in the snow right where I landed,” he said with a big grin. They were very expensive Smith Phenoms.

“I will hate you for the rest of the day,” I replied. Marshall gave a thumbs-up and glided over to the lift. 

What are the unexpected blessings God has in store for you in the new year? There will be bumps and bruises, to be sure, for no life here on earth is without them, but there will also be surprise delights bestowed by a Creator who loves us beyond measure. Sometimes he shows love by allowing us to stumble and fall, so we’ll learn humility, perseverance, and dependence on him. He’ll be with us through it all. But then there are the moments after a tumble when ski goggles emerge from the snow in startling and unanticipated fashion: a friend, to whom you don’t even remember mentioning your difficult dilemma, calls with the perfect solution … while boarding a plane after a failed business meeting, you meet your future spouse … an injury or illness imposes lifestyle change and the discovery of interests and talents you didn’t know you had … or maybe a wrong turn on a street leads you past a sign you never would have seen — a “for sale” sign on a house just like the one you’ve been looking for for years …

I know people who don’t believe in God, who can’t imagine a supreme being that gets involved in the details of our lives. But I choose to put faith in a God who does get involved, who came in the flesh to die for us. And by the way, Jesus’ crucifixion sure looked at first like a spectacular stumble on the slopes by God. But — ta da!— like my brother’s newfound goggles, Jesus didn’t stay buried for long. God loves giving surprise gifts.

So get ready for a happy new year. Right under the surface of each day with its obstacles and disappointments are unpredicted blessings to be revealed to you by a God of joyous purpose.

I doubt you’ll need expensive goggles to see them.

Cuyler Black