My sweet little Bekah is at this hilarious stage in her life. She is constantly climbing up things to get into great adventures, but she isn’t old enough to climb back down. So about 18 times a day I will hear this little scream, and I’ll get to go rescue her off of her sister’s bed or the train table or some other elevated position. To illustrate – just now I had to step away because Bekah had climbed into the (empty) bathtub and was stuck – seriously. Perfect timing, right? Hilarious.
When I hear her cry and go on my rescue mission, I don’t spank her or reprimand, I always laugh and pick her up and take a few seconds to cuddle her before I put her back on safe ground. I am totally in love with this child – totally captivated. She is beautiful and has this vibrant personality already. It makes me proud of her when she climbs up – I think she is brave.
This morning I was thinking about her climbing and what I think I love best is that she cries out to me when she is scared or overwhelmed or in over her little head, but she still keeps climbing. I began thinking about us and the Lord and came to the conclusion that I think we are to follow her example in our lives.
Psalm 24:3-6 says –
Who may ascend the hill of the LORD ? Who may stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false.
He will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from God his Savior.
Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, O God of Jacob. Selah
I think there there are times, even in our faith, that we can be anxious and feel overwhelmed. We can have a moment of bravery and climb up to a new level of trust or commitment. But so much of our faith is a mystery, and sometimes it can be scary to be in a place of vulnerability. We are still human and by nature our reality is we are double-minded, half trusting and half terrified.
I know so many people, some I am really close to, who once they climb up and feel vulnerable, climb back down and never venture any farther again. It is like the vulnerable feeling is so scary that they force themselves to become content with the ground. Or they let guilt over persistent sin and a feeling of worthlessness keep them distant in their relationship with the Lord. They know they are distant, they sometimes regret they are distant, but for some reason they choose the distance over the vulnerability of climbing to the next level.
I also know others who climb and climb and climb and never call out to the Lord. It is like in the climb and the search for righteousness, they forget the Object of our pursuit and their life becomes about the mountain and not about the Maker.
Salvation is free, it is entirely based on grace because of the amazing sacrifice of Christ for us. But growth does take work. And we can choose to work and climb, or not. The Lord draws us and woos us, but He doesn’t force Himself on us. But the work that it takes to climb isn’t our work alone – it is ultimately the work of our Father. He begins the work and carries it to completion.
So what does it look like to climb up to the next level? I think it is taking ourselves and our messes to the Lord and asking for Him to take us to the next level, and then being obedient. Our role is to humble ourselves and bravely desire Him above all. When we get into that posture, He does the rest.
Ecclesiastes 7 talks about this balance.
In this meaningless life of mine I have seen both of these: a righteous man perishing in his righteousness, and a wicked man living long in his wickedness.
Do not be overrighteous, neither be overwise— why destroy yourself?
Do not be overwicked, and do not be a fool— why die before your time?
It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other. The man who fears God will avoid all extremes.
So what are we to do? We fear God and seek Him first. We follow when He leads, we bravely climb higher, and we cry out when we are afraid. And He rescues us over and over again as we trust in Him. And each time He rescues us, He draws us near. He comforts us and cuddles us close. We get to know His heart, over and over, and we find that He loves us and is absolutely captivated by us. We are His creation.
Life is about the climb, and about the cry. If we can get those two things right, there is no telling the mountains we can conquer together.