Skiing through the rollers of life

When your life is centered on Christ, no disaster can ever knock you down. Photo: Kristi Overton-Johnson

KEYSTONE HEIGHTS, Fla., May 29, 2012 — Last weekend, I had the privilege of attending the 53rd US Masters Water Ski and Wakeboard Tournament at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia. While there, I had the opportunity to commentate the live webcast of the slalom event. The competition brought with it lots of excitement as the world’s top water skiers fought their way through the course in hopes of becoming the 2012 Master’s Champion.

As the commentator, I had the best view of anyone attending the event; I sat on top of the pavilion and looked down over the skiers as they navigated their way through the course. I also had a great view of the water conditions and, as usual, the waters of Robin Lake served up quite a challenge to the world’s best.

Unless you’ve navigated your way through the waters of Robin Lake, it’s hard to understand why they are so difficult to compete upon. When you look out on the water, everything looks perfect. White sand surrounds most of the lake, green trees and plants outline the banks, and the water is a beautiful greenish color. But when skiers take to the water, they quickly realize that the water isn’t as “perfect” as it looks. Concrete pylons and a rocky shoreline on the far side of the lake create walls that boats’ wakes bounce off of. This “backwash” creates rollers that pop up unexpectedly in skiers’ paths, bringing with it the potential of knocking them right off of their skis.

Unfortunately, I saw this happen to many skiers over the weekend. It is so sad to watch a skier sit in the water in disbelief as he tries to figure out what knocked him down. I know from experience the pain, disappointment, anger, and frustration that can rise up in the athlete’s heart as all her dreams of becoming the Master’s Champion come to an abrupt end.

From my “birds eye” view, I could often tell if a skier was going to survive the challenging waters. Rollers were present for every skier, but the skiers who successfully ran the course were the ones who were in the most solid position, centered over the top of their skis.

I don’t know about you, but I often feel like life can serve up some “rolly” waters, just like Robin Lake. I can be running my course of life and out of nowhere, “rollers” can pop up that throw me off my rhythm or stop me dead in my tracks. Like the skier, we need to make sure we are in a solid position so that we can “ski” through these “rollers” victoriously.

Matthew 7:24-27 says, “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is build on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.” (New Living Translation)

If you read these verses carefully you’ll see that “rollers” come into everyone’s life, whether they are Christian or not. The verses say “when the rain comes,” “when the floodwaters rise,” and “when the wind beats,” not if these things come. We will all face a course of life filled with challenges. Relationship issues will come. Sickness and death will come. Financial challenges will come. Career issues will come. Dreams will be challenged.

Whether we remain standing or fall flat on our face depends on our position spiritually … it depends on our foundation. If we build our lives on a relationship with God and center them on His Truth (The Word of God), no matter what comes into our lives, we will remain standing because we have built on a foundation that will not fail us, a foundation that can weather any storm, a foundation that is sure and true.

Unfortunately, many people choose to build their lives on a foundation of “sand.” They build their lives on their successes, passions, relationships, money, fame, outward appearances, performance, education, and their careers, all of which are temporary, earthly things. When the “rollers” of life come, their life foundations are shaken. If they aren’t centered in Christ, what they’ve built gets knocked down. They end up like the skier in the middle of the lake whose dreams have just come crashing down all around her.

Have you ever wondered why some people are able to keep moving forward in life with peace, joy, and hope, while others seem paralyzed by emotions caused by the “rollers” that surround them? The difference lies in their foundations. Those grounded in Christ have hope which serves as an “anchor to their soul” (Hebrews 6:19).  

You don’t have to be tossed about by the “rollers” of life. If life has caused you to feel a bit shaky lately, I encourage you to check out your foundation. Make sure your life is built on “rock” and not “sand.” And if you have found yourself in the water, don’t lose hope and don’t give up. Unlike the boat drivers of the Masters Tournament, God will not leave you in the middle of the lake to swim to shore in defeat. He is right there with you, offering you hope, joy, and peace in the midst of the storms of life. He has an answer to life’s biggest issues. Nothing is too hard for Him.

Grab hold of Him today and let Him pull you back on top of the waters. Get grounded in Him and no matter what comes into your life’s course, He will navigate you to victory.

“When you go through the deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown … For I am the Lord, your God … your Savior … You are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you. Do not be afraid, for I am with you.” Isaiah 43:2-5 (NLT)


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Kristi Overton-Johnson


As a professional water skier for over 20 years and the World Record Holder in women’s slalom from 1992-2010, Kristi Overton Johnson has taken to the waters of the world with passion and perseverance. Kristi began her waterskiing career at the age of 4 and turned professional at 13. For 15 years, Kristi dominated women’s slalom, accumulating 80 professional wins and capturing more number one world rankings than any other female skier in history.
Before retiring from professional sports, Kristi founded a non-profit water sports ministry In His Wakes. Since its inception, In His Wakes has touched the lives of over 10,000 at-risk youth across the nation and internationally. This unique ministry brings hope, healing and encouragement through the avenue of water sports and through the message of God's love.
For years, Kristi has travelled nationally and internationally as a faith-based motivational speaker encouraging people through her life experiences as an athlete, wife, mother and ministry leader. Kristi also ministers through song and through her gift as a writer. In Running the Course, her first book, she wrote about her experiences as a top professional athlete and how through faith she found purpose for her life. 
Although Kristi is committed to helping others achieve their God-given destinies, she realizes that her first priority is her family. Kristi has been married to best friend Tim Johnson since 1994. Tim and Kristi have three children, the youngest of which were both adopted from Russia in 2004. They reside in North Florida where they raise their family and serve their community through Kristi Overton Johnson Ministries

Contact Kristi Overton-Johnson


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