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Wednesday Word: Carving New Tracks

February 10, 2021 | Ashley Denton

How Missions is Like Snowboarding on a Powder Day

Shoveling your way out of the cabin is a good sign that it’s a powder day. I woke up early to go out and warm up the vans to take a group of high school kids skiing and snowboarding. Having been so preoccupied with planning the trip I had forgotten to check the weather report. Much to my surprise, when I woke up the first morning of the ski retreat, we had to shovel our way out through 3 feet of fresh snow. This was one of those mornings we were especially grateful for ski town road crews because no matter how much snow falls, the snow plows will clear it.

Going out in Mission Has Risks, but the Reward is Worth it!

Of course, being snowed in, there were some students who wanted to stay back in the cozy cabin near the orange glow of the roasting fire. And we could have canceled the ski day up the mountain for fear that the roads were icy. But we didn’t. We took a risk and wow, did it pay off! We headed out early, drove slowly, and eventually arrived at the parking lot of the ski area. We were the first group to arrive. Pouring out of the van were a bunch of giggling teenagers, just bursting with excitement to be the first to hit the slopes.

Carving New Tracks

At the top of the first run, I looked at a group of these high school friends with a big smile on my face, and said, “Lets Ride!” We took off down the mountain, carving new tracks on every run! By the end of the day, there were still less than 20 cars in the parking lot! The riders were few. We had the mountain to ourselves, the whole day! There were a lot of people who didn’t bother to make the drive, probably for fear of the weather conditions. But they missed out on what was possibly the most epic day of snowboarding any of us had ever had.

How Missions is Like that Epic Day of Skiing & Snowboarding

Missions and that day of skiing and boarding have a couple of things in common. Missions is about making new tracks for the Gospel. It isn’t easy. There are risks, but the reward for going out into the storm is worth it. As we look at our world today, the truth is that God is still opening doors and clearing the roads for missions like those snowplows were keeping the roads open for us to make it to the mountain. The question for us is, will we will make the journey out into the storm? Carving new tracks on the mountain that day was more fun than I can describe. Paul also talked about this kind of risk-taking missionary spirit to carve new tracks when he said:

So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ. It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation. Rather, as it is written: “Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand” (Romans 15:19-21).

Carving new tracks is just plain fun. And the truth is that God always clears the road for us to go out in mission, just like those snowplows always clear the roads no matter how bad the storm. It is not that the road hasn’t been plowed, it has. God opens doors for the Gospel in every generation to go make disciples (cf. Matthew 28:18-20). Now it is our mandate to go and carve new tracks. The irony is that although mission is difficult, it is also full of joy just like that epic day of riding in 3 feet of powder. With that in mind, here is a severe understatement to consider: The fruit of obedience to the Great Commission is even better than a day of carving new tracks in Champagne powder…. That’s the truth.

Jesus’ joy was to love sinners and broken, hurting people who needed him. Evangelism among people who have no hope is our mountain to carve. Jesus said it this way: “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matthew 9:37).

The world’s mission field is a “mountain covered in powder.” First tracks are ready to be carved for the ones who are willing to go. So, let’s pray for a willing heart to be those who will go into his harvest field! Jesus said that when it comes to mission, “The workers are few.” Similarly, on that epic stormy powder day, the skiers and boarders were few. There were only 20 cars that made it up to the mountain that day. But those of us who stepped out in faith and braved the storm will never forget that day of carving new tracks. And that is exactly what you will feel like when you step out into mission where few have gone before you.

Let’s go!

Take Action

  • How does it feel to carve new tracks on a powder day? In your own words, how is missions like carving new tracks?
  • What types of comforts or fears tend to keep you from braving the “storms” and “icy roads” that will lead you into a missional lifestyle? What joys do you think await those who are willing to take the risk to go where few have gone before? Does that excite you?
  • Prayerfully surrender your will and desires to Christ and genuinely open up your heart today for Jesus to send you out somewhere locally or abroad to “carve new tracks” for the Gospel.

Ashley Denton

Professor of Outdoor Leadership & World Mission

Author of Christian Outdoor Leadership: Theology, Theory, and Practice, Dr. Ashley Denton serves as a professor of Outdoor Leadership & World Mission at […]

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