I recently made a FB post related to the phrase tips down. The post confused everyone, especially my wife, who sent me a disappointed in you text when she read my post. The offending post, was simply a small snapshot of a much deeper and prolonged thought process concerning the phrase tips down. I thought I would share my pondering on this topic.
This particular phrase comes from a scene in the movie “Hot Tub Time Machine.” Anyone who knows me well knows that I am not a big fan of inappropriate movies – crude with casual attitudes towards adult relationships (trying to stay away from using certain words in this post). In fact, my older kids, now in their teens and lower 20’s, often tell me, “Dad, you can’t watch that movie. Too inappropriate.” It’s nice to have children who are willing to screen your movies for inappropriate content.
So, the way I experience most movies that my kids have grounded me from, is through short, edited clips on YouTube I think my brother showed my the ski scene from Hot Tub Time Machine before we took a big snowboarding trip with the kids and their friends. In that scene, the guys had just gotten out of the hot tub and don’t realize, yet, that they have magically become young again. They still see themselves as old, but they feel a little more invigorated than usual.
They ski up to a very steep, double black diamond run, and they look at eachother, and the one guy, who takes on my of the leader role in the rest of the movie, looks down the precipice and says, “Tips down. Tips f***in down! Right now!” as he looks across the row of his friends, he points at one of them with his ski pole right in his face, and says “Let’s ride!” And of course, they take off, and in their transformed 20 year old bodies, they are able to conquer the double black with style and flair.
Tips down became the mantra for that ski trip and we were all posting it on each others walls, saying it every five seconds, etc. In the days and weeks that followed, that phrase kept rolling around in the back of my mind. In the last few weeks, the church I have attended since the early 90’s was just finishing up a capital stewardship campaign named all in. That is such an awesome campaign slogan. It takes something from the gambling world, no-limit, Texas hold’em poker, and relates it to a super important church initiative. I love that! So many churches and Christians take themselves so seriously they can’t loosen up a little about an activity like playing poker.
Anyway, the idea behind all in is, that you are so confident that you have the best hand, you are willing to risk it all. You will either go up huge and win it all, or you will lose it all and go home. What a great metaphor for the stewardship campaign – people being able to risk the pot because the desired reward is well worth the risk. So, as the phrase all in was rolling around my brain, I kept getting this image of Jesus, sitting next to me at a poker table with sunglasses on, looking over at me with his cards and chip stack on the table in front of him, and he asks me, “Are you all in?”
One of the great universal truths of life is that most everyone, while lying on their deathbeds, wish that they could go back in time and take more risks. Being all in for following Jesus means that you are willing to risk it all, because the rewards of following Jesus are worth the risk. As I have grown in my faith over the last 20 plus years, I have been placing bigger bets, in all areas of my life, on following Jesus. So I like the idea of all in and how it applies to my life – my followership – as it were.
I also know a little about snowboarding. Several years ago I was in a sports authority and they had a 90% blowout on snowboard gear, so I bought me and my kids snowboards, in the hopes of being able to do something cool with them and their friends, and be a cool dad in the process. Well, over the years, I have had many opportunities to have some pretty incredible bonding experiences with my kids, extended family and friends; however, I am not sure that I ever became cool. I never really skied, so in my mid-thirties I picked up snowboarding. Not the best idea. Over the years I have seen the following pattern develop, time and time again: Kids show up who have never snowboarded before. I teach them how to snowboard, and after a short while, they are passing me down the mountain like I am standing still.
I snowboard super slow, and really try to be in control at all times. I never let myself get going too fast. On areas with long flats, I never have enough momentum coming in to make it in to the ski life so I end up having to skate until I am almost hyperventilating from exhaustion. One of my dreams, is to one day, actually have the courage, and the ability, to go tips down on a really big hill, and feel the exhilaration of the speed, danger and risk; along with the camaraderie of being able to be with everyone else, instead of bringing up the rear every time down.
As I have thought about it more, tips down is a great metaphor for how I should follow after Jesus in my life. I need to live my life tips down with my wife, kids, family, friends, co-workers and global community. I want to take risks in life for the reward of making a difference in the lives of people close to me, and people on the other side of the world.
In fact, in my minds-eye, I can picture myself, at the top of a big, scary black diamond, with my snowboard on, looking down from the top, scared out of my my mind. Jesus is standing next to me, with his skis on, wearing his goggles on his head. He looks over at me, looks down the mountain, pulls his goggles over his eyes, looks back over at me and says, “Let’s go. Tips down. Tips down! Right now!” I gulp, and my face turns white as I start to panic. I motion to Jesus to go ahead and go without me, while I skeech down the mountain in a full snowplow stop the whole way down. Jesus turns to me again, and offers me the tip of his ski pole, and says, come on, grab hold, follow me down. It’ll be alright. Trust me.”
In my minds-eye, I reach out, grab the pole, and experience the ride of a lifetime. My real-life experience has been less than that, more like being dragged down the mountain sometimes, letting go and rolling down for a while, etc. But, so far I have been willing to skate over to the ski lift at the end of the run, and try it again. I hope that trend continues. So, when I say, we should name our next capital stewardship program tips down, know that I say that with the utmost seriousness and reverence, with a great deal of careful thought behind it 🙂