On Saturday, however, things did not turn out so wonderfully for me. As we were headed down one of the easy, green runs for beginners, I decided to have a little fun and go through a small patch of trees. I do this all the time, so I did not think to be extra worried or cautious. It turns out that I should have been a little more wary on this section than I realized. Towards the end of this particular patch of trees, the snow had melted off a fallen log right under the path I was planning to take – a danger that caught me by surprise. I tried to make an extra wide turn around the exposed hazard, but my efforts failed. The log grabbed the edge of my board and threw me to the ground, ribs first - hard, fast, and likely hitting the end of the log that had brought this all about. The fall was more painful than any I have experienced in years. I got up, continued on, and tried to make a few more runs. Yet, the pain in my rib cage was so acute and persistent that I knew I needed to check if I had broken anything and make sure that my lungs were okay.
Fortunately, when we headed to the urgent care clinic in Whitefish, we received the all-clear that my ribs and lungs were intact. I only need to rest for the contusion to heal itself over the next few weeks. Unfortunately, the pain from this fall is still surprisingly debilitating. This is another setback in a season of setbacks. Over the past month of life and ministry I have had to stay home for multiple close contacts with COVID-19, had to suspend ministry activities, lost my grandmother, and now had my weekend of family recuperation interrupted by a rib injury that has left me reeling in physical pain. It kind of feels like the hits just keep on coming. (Pun intended).
Yet these worldly setbacks give me opportunities to practice what I preach and place my hope, trust, faith, and love in the capable hands of our Lord who transcends our physical limitations and setbacks. The life of the Christian is not defined by the material possessions, worldly comforts, or the eases that this life affords to some, but, instead, by the hope that transcends and overcomes all adversity that we face in our lives. Suffering does not mean that God is absent, but rather provides moments for us to realize God’s presence and comfort more wholly and completely. This month, we journey into the season of Lent on Ash Wednesday with the words, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” These words are ominous but true. Our mortal flesh often proves to be little more than dust on its way home. Nevertheless, we trust that God does miraculous things amid all the chaos we encounter in this world - even with simple piles of dirt.