When I was around seventeen (which is how most funny stories start), I got talked into trying my hand at water-skiing. So, one fine Saturday afternoon my friends and I launched the bass boat onto the Tennessee River for some high-speed antics and daring, aquatic acrobatics. At least that was the cover story. I think I was more concerned with not looking like an idiot. But, alas, my ego was in for some rough waters that day.
After my friends demonstrated the proper technique and how “easy and fun” water skiing was, it was my turn to give it a try. I assumed the position – in the water, skis pointed up, knees slightly bent, and a firm grasp on the rope handle. I gave the driver a hearty “GO!” and he gunned it.
I got up out of the water on my first try, but it didn’t last long. The natural tendency the first time you ski is to pull the rope toward you. This makes your feet fly out from under you, so within about two seconds I wiped out.
After a few failed attempts, I finally forced myself to keep my arms locked and voila! – I’m skiing. Oh yeah, I’m skiing, and I’m feeling pretty good about myself. “This skiing stuff is easy,” I’m thinking, until my friend decides to turn the boat and I’m introduced to the concept of a wake.
When I hit the wake, my right foot comes almost all the way out of the ski. I’m literally dragging my right ski down the Tennessee River with my big toe. I continue to perform my modified slalom technique while my friends are busting a gut with laughter. After a while, my left leg eventually gives out and I take a header into the river.
That would have been the end of the story, but this was my first head-first crash and I forgot the most important tip from my thirty second training session – always let go of the rope. As I was about to learn, if you don’t let go of the rope, the angle of your body drives you straight down.
Just before I start dredging the bottom of the river, I come to my senses and let go. I’m sure it was only about 3 seconds that I held on, but I still had to swim a good distance to get to the surface. After such a harrowing experience it was nice to be met with the comforting sound of hysterical laughter from my comrades.
Seems like a simple idea – just let go of the rope — but letting go is often very difficult. There are ropes that we need to let go of in our spiritual lives as well. Maybe it’s a toxic relationship that you think will eventually turn around. Maybe it’s a habitual sin that we return to time and again. These are the things in life that will drive us farther and farther down into the river and separate us from fellowship with God.
Hebrews 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”
Sin entangles us and, just like that ski rope, drags us down. But that verse also talks about a “great cloud of witnesses.” These are people that God has graciously placed in our lives to help when we need to let go of the rope of sin. Summon the courage to talk to fellow believers. They can point you to helpful verses and pray with you as you learn how to let go.