Saturday, November 12, 2011

Just Think About Climbing

13 My friends, I don’t feel that I have already arrived. But I forget what is behind, and I struggle for what is ahead. 14 I run toward the goal, so that I can win the prize of being called to heaven. This is the prize that God offers because of what Christ Jesus has done. 15 All of us who are mature should think in this same way. And if any of you think differently, God will make it clear to you.  —  Philippians 3:13–15 (CEV)

A father was trying to teach his young son to climb tree.  He lifted the boy up to the lowest limb and then encouraged him to carefully stand up and reach for the next limb, then move toward the center of the tree where it would be easier to climb higher.  But the boy was frightened and kept crying out, "I'm going to fall, I'm going to fall!"  No assurances seemed to help.  Finally, the father called to the boy, "Son! Listen to me!  Stop thinking about falling.  Think about climbing."  The boy focused on those words, and then stood up, reached the next limb, moved to the center of the tree and began climbing.  "I'm not afraid now, Dad," he said.  "I'm just thinking about climbing!"  –  (adapted from

It's easy to be like that little boy, even if you're not climbing a tree.  If you get too focused on all the terrible possibilities, it can paralyze you and scare you to death!  That happens more often then any of us want to admit.  We often can't see the positive possibilities because we're too focused on the negatives.  We see all the potentials for failure, for disappointment, for pain.  Never mind that the rewards for success, the emotional charge of accomplishment, and everything good that might come from doing what we want.
It's no less true when it comes to our faith journey.  It looks so hard.  It appears out of reach.  It's beyond our abilities.  It's too high.  The potential for failure, for falling, is so great.  Maybe we shouldn't try at all.  But that, of course, would be counter to God's call and our own hopes.

This is something like Paul's point to the church at Philippi.  "I'm not there yet," Paul would say.  "I haven't arrived.  I've got a long way to go.  But I'm not looking back, not looking down, not going to get all caught up in the frightful things around me.  I'm going to think about climbing."  That's not exactly what he said, but it's what he meant.

You need to think about your own life.  Are you standing on a shaky limb afraid you're going to fall?  Scared you're going to slip and take a dive?  Are you aware how debilitating it is to focus on falling instead of climbing?  Look up!  Look ahead!  Think about climbing ever toward the goal for which you have been called by the gospel of Jesus.  If you ever want to get there, you've got to focus more on the goal than on where you are, or where you've been.  I'm just thinking about climbing!