“Turn left.” “Turn right.” These are not the words of a “back-seat driver” but the voice of a skiing guide directing a blind student down a mountain slope. The visually-impaired skier carves arcing turns down the steep slope. He follows his guide in perfect synch. The guide calls rhythmic three-syllable turns as they ski effortlessly through sudden drops, scattered trees, and crowds of people. As the blind skier descends solely by voice commands and the sound of the instructor’s skis, he knows what it takes to attack any challenge and thrive. This is confidence, built through dedication, focus, and trust.
Imagine what it must be like to ski in total darkness! If someone tied a blindfold over my eyes and told me to follow the instructions of a guide, I would find it extremely difficult because I am used to making my own decisions and, as a sighted person, would probably tend to second guess my leader.
A blind skier begins his or her training by literally going nowhere. First, he must get used to his skis by simply moving them back and forth. Then he must gradually slide forward on a level track of ground, learning how to slow his speed and to eventually stop by pointing the skis inward. (This maneuver, called the “Snowplow,” is usually where I panic and sit down in the snow.) Next, the skier must learn to navigate the “Bunny Slope” and finally advance to the side of the mountain. When the class is over and the student has learned the correct moves, he will never be able to say to the instructor, “I appreciate what you have done for me; I’ll take it from here.” The imaginary skier will never be able to go it alone. For the sight impaired, skiing is not about trusting oneself to go down the mountain. Rather, the exhilarating experience depends entirely on trusting the guide. Without this trust, there can be no safe skiing.
So, the place to begin to live the Eight Natural Remedies is with Trust in God – “to put first things first.” And Jesus said that means to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Then, He assures us, the other important components of our lives will fall into their proper places. (See Matthew 6:33.)
Remember how I occasionally fall when I ski? (I don’t like to think of it as falling – just sitting down hard.) Well, sometimes we claim to trust in God but we do it “a la carte” – in some ways, at some times. There is a component that must accompany trust in God and that is obedience to His will. A blind skier will not successfully navigate the slope unless he listens to the voice of the guide and turns right or left when instructed. Trust is made real by obedience. You can’t have one without the other.
John H. Sammis, who lived from 1846-1919, wrote a hymn that says it best:
When we walk with the Lord
in the light of His word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will,
He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.
Trust and obey, for there's no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
To trust in God and to obey His will does not mean that the problems that confront us will disappear. The obstacles challenging the blind skier do not go away – the trees, the rocks, the drop-offs will be there. But his trust in and obedience to the voice of his guide will guide him safely along. The Psalmist David said, “In all thy ways acknowledge Him [our heavenly Guide], and He shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:6).