Shoot the Gap

Shoot the Gap.

Have you ever heard that phrase? It is used in a number of ways and applications, from sports to slang to everyday life. My first recollection of the term is associated with football where the space between offensive linemen is called a gap. When the defense tries to quickly slip through the space it is referred to as shooting the gap.

In whitewater sports you will find it used as well. For example, when a kayak shoots the gap between rocks.

It is also used in street slang to refer to driving your car through a narrow, and usually dangerous opening. Volkswagen picked up on this in the following commercial.

The ad demonstrates the dangerous maneuver to show the car’s potential. It was effective (and humorous!) but it received such a backlash from safety advocates that VW actually pulled the ad.

“Shoot the gap! Shoot the gap!”

I have been thinking of shooting the gap related to skiing.

Skiing on a day like this is a lot of fun, but for exhilaration, give me the trees.

Wa-Hoo!!!

There are a number of things to keep in mind when skiing trees; the primary one is to avoid the tree.

The key to avoiding the tree is to see. Not to see the trees, mind you, but the gaps, and then picking a line to follow that will lead to another gap. It’s the same idea as when you drive your car or ride a bike. Just as your car or bicycle tends to go where you look, your skis follow your eyes.

It’s a simple rule that your eyes lead your skis, but beginners often have difficulty with this for a simple reason: human nature’s tendency to focus on what we are trying to avoid. The beginner doesn’t want to hit the tree, so he concentrates on the tree, and then runs into it.

The experienced tree skier on the other hand does, indeed, see the trees. But she isn’t looking for the trees, she’s looking for a gap that leads to the next gap. It’s not the obstacles that have her attention, but the openings.

Looking for the gaps

I have been thinking some about how this relates to living life. Actual trees on a snowy slope are easy to see for what they are. In navigating life it is not always so clear cut. So how do I do this? There are certain things that help us to see. Three that help me are Joy, Gratitude and Prayer.

Joy is a big-picture word that looks at my present circumstances in light of who God is and his presence.

Gratitude is a details word that looks at what God has specifically done for me (or given to me) as I look back at my life.

Prayer is the ongoing conversation with God about my life as it is now.

Joy is recognizing that God is bigger than my circumstances.

Gratitude is giving thanks to God for the times in my life where he has shown himself bigger than my circumstances.

Prayer is the current looking to God to do so again.

Joy, gratitude and prayer help me to ski the trees and find the gaps.

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