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FIRST-PERSON: How to be a medallist when slipping on ice

EVANSTON, Ill. (BP)–A couple of weeks ago, we had a serious snow here in Chicago. Since then, daytime temperatures have often slipped above freezing, and nighttime temperatures have consistently dropped into the teens and 20s. So when I make my way to and from the train in the pre-dawn cold, I have to contend with the freshly frozen runoff from the previous day’s melt. It’s treacherous, scary stuff, and more than once, I’ve had to play acrobat to stay on my feet.

Slipping on ice and snow (which is just fancy ice) is a grim prospect. Cars in the ditch. Broken hips, wrists and ankles. Scattered packages.

Oh, and yes, a worldwide athletic extravaganza. We call it the Winter Olympics.

That’s basically what it is — slipping on ice.

Speed skaters strap on blades and run/slide around an oval track of ice. Figure skaters glide, twirl, embrace, toss and leap — on ice. Luge and bobsled riders hurtle down an icy channel. Ice hockey players slice down the rink with a skimming puck and then slide backwards in defense. Curling competitors slide stones on ice and then brush the ice with brooms to affect the slide. Snowboarders, Alpine and Nordic skiers, and biatheletes wax their gear to better slide down snowy inclines and across snowy fields. All of them slipping on ice.

Here comes the winter storm front. Great. Break out the colorful spandex. Cue the herald trumpets. Carry the torch and light the fire pot. Don the jaunty caps. Parade the flags. Sing the anthems. It’s time for a party.

What can we make of this? First, it’s testimony to God’s artistry in fashioning people. Throw a problem at them, and they have the imagination and grit to turn things around. God made right resourceful and playful creatures when he made us. Second, it should embarrass mopes in ministry. Have a difficulty? Play with it. Turn troubles on their head, and have a celebration.

What could be more daunting than the bloody persecution of the early church, including the stoning of Stephen? Time to huddle under the comforter bemoaning the sad state of things? Not really. Time for the diaspora — Christian seeds broadcast throughout the world. Kill more Christians? Are you sure you want to do that? The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church. Take your best shot. We’ll pray, improvise, train, gather, compete and celebrate.

What about the worldwide challenge of Islam? Now there’s a chilling phenomenon. Fine. We’ll cheer for John in apologetics and interfaith witness, Cynthia in women’s ministry, Karen in prayerwalking, Kevin in evangelistic correspondence, Lakeesha in Internet witness, James in hunger relief, Ahmed in the underground church, Michael in scholarly writing, Margaret in diplomacy, Caleb in military deterrence — medalists all.

Cold wind may blow. Water may freeze. Snow may drift. Surfaces may glaze. Perfect. Where’s that wax?
Coppenger is pastor of Evanston (Ill.) Baptist Church. Other reflections by Coppenger can be viewed at www.comeletusreason.com.

    About the Author

  • Mark Coppenger