Taking the Next Difficult Step is Easier Than I Thought
On a recent vacation, I decided to try rock climbing on the simulated rock wall. I had never done it, but watched several people in front of me, some succeeding to the top and some quitting part way up. With each one I could, I asked how they did it or what stopped them from finishing, trying to learn whatever might help me make it high enough to ring the little bell at the top, announcing my success.
When it was my turn, the attendant, Alex, roped me up and gave me climbing shoes to help me hold on. I took my first few steps on the holds and knobs. “This is pretty easy,” I thought. But like anything else physical, it got harder as I went along. About 20 feet up, my fingers were getting sore from holding on to the knobs to stay on the wall. The knobs didn’t seem to be in the right places for a reasonable step. Pretty soon the wall became concave, making it harder to hang on.
Holding one end of my rope at the bottom of the wall, Alex was very helpful in suggesting which hold I could grab or where I could get a good foothold for the next step. But some of the suggestions just seemed impossible to achieve. I’d yell down to him, “I can’t reach that!” He’d yell back, “Just put your foot there and lift yourself up with your legs!” I knew that would be impossible. If it put my foot there, I would be in the wrong position to lift myself up.
Finally, after several repetitions, it dawned on me how the process had been working all along: As I climbed, Alex would pull up the slack rope behind me and keep it taut. During difficult times, he would help me using the rope. I decided to try my new theory.
“Right foot on the green knob!” Alex yelled. I thought, “Okay, I’ll see if this works.” I put my foot on the ridiculously high green knob and virtually pretended to lift myself up. Sure enough – Alex pulled the rope just enough behind me to lift me to the next handle. “Aha, I could do this with his help,” I realized. And so it went, for the next ten feet or so, I stretched and made the slightest effort, and Alex hoisted me just enough that I could go on. But I noticed he never pulled the rope early; he always waited for me to make my move first. Ringing the bell turned out to be not just about my success, but about my ability to trust in Alex as my partner.
And so it is in the difficulties of our life. We know the right move, we hear the Holy Spirit encouraging us forward. But the next step just seems impossible, like it will never work. Doubt seeps in, “I don’t think I can do this.” And it’s true — without Alex I would not have made it to the top. And without the Holy Spirit helping us, the next difficult step would be impossible. But all we have to do is make the first move and He lifts us into position.
I have found this as I obey God in new ways in which He’s leading me. I imagine what will happen if I try to do what I believe He’s asking, but I’ve learned that my imagination only leads me to doubt. When I just act as I’m lead, a completely new outcome emerges that lifts me to an entirely different place than I’d thought possible and that I never could’ve found a way to achieve on my own.
With this understanding and trust, I find not only the motivation to keep going, but that my action actually has the intended result and puts me in position for the next move. When I trust and walk in His strength, I am amazed by God’s faithfulness, my faith grows and I take the path of His design, resulting in His purposes.
Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. Deuteronomy 30:11
I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. Ephesians 3:16-17
Shalom, thank you for the great post. I could almost see you climbing that rock, very nice analogy!
May 4, 2012 at 7:20 am
Thanks, Elsa. I had never been climbing before (simulated or otherwise), so it was a great learning experience. As soon as I finished I realized the analogy and it certainly has stayed with me.
May 4, 2012 at 7:36 am