It was about as far from perfect skiing conditions as you can imagine. The visibility was only a few feet, snow was coming down through the fog and as we slid down the ramps from the chairlifts at 6000ft it was almost all we could manage to gather together in one group – twenty 11 to 13 year olds and a couple of teachers on their first skiing holiday in the Swiss Alps. Undaunted our headmaster who had obviously seen worse conditions growing up in his native Wales told us boys to get going. He led the way through the blizzard with a cry of ‘Follow me’ in his loud Welsh accent. Almost immediately we saw a hint of red and orange piste markers and heard the long plaintive cry ‘Donnn’tttt follllooowww meeeee’. We stood there freezing by the danger signs peering down through the murk for about forty minutes watching our headmaster’s blue ski jacket slowly climbing up the steep powdery edge he had just careered over.
It is important to know who you are following and to follow the right guide.
The next verse of Psalm 23 after ‘He restores my soul’ is ‘He leads me on paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. God doesn’t leave us alone. He doesn’t abandon us, He doesn’t take us over the precipice, but He doesn’t let us lie in rest either. He takes us forward, He stretches us and challenges us. It is in the next line where we see the words ‘Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. For thou art with me, thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.’ We don’t often see the way ahead and we need help to stay on the right path, but we are led on paths of righteousness. To become righteous takes a journey, it takes us to fail and to get up again, it takes us to strive to do the right thing. How often have you known what you wanted to do but couldn’t quite achieve it? How often has some stubborn sinful behaviour tripped you up again and again despite your best intentions? How often have you said you would be better tomorrow only to slip up even before breakfast?
We often fail, but we are never forsaken. He leads us and He knows the way. Just make sure you are following Jesus, not a lesser guide, because they cannot keep you safe and do not lead to salvation. But with Christ, we are guaranteed a journey towards righteousness, to self-improvement and to Hope.