Asbury United Methodist Church
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June 6, 2017

I think today is a good day to talk about ladder climbing!

            Last week, I was outside in my driveway and witnessed my neighbor Raymond drag a ladder out of his garage and place it on the front of his house. I watched him as he steadied the ladder, made sure it had a solid foundation and then proceed to climb it to do some gutter cleaning.

            I shouted over at him, “Do you have the number to 911 memorized?” He laughed.

He laughed because he could. He laughed because that fateful incident was way far behind in his rearview mirror.

He laughed because we are well into that window of time after a horrific event has taken place; and, we are now in that season, the one where we’re all going to look back on this one day and have a good laugh!

            Several years ago, a ladder put Raymond in the hospital.  It was very bad.

            I am not sure why he was up a ladder on that particular day.  Maybe he was just doing some gutter cleaning.

            But at any rate, the ground gave way on him. He ended up with a rather lengthy stay in the hospital, weeks of missed work and therapy for his broken leg.

            Raymond laughed when I made that 911 comment. He replied that a) he had his cell phone in his pocket and b) his wife was not at home to yell at him so he figured he was pretty safe.

            I did not share his confidence!

            So…today…if you are climbing a ladder, please make sure it has a solid foundation to rest upon! And, one way or another, from a certain point of view, we all climb ladders.

            Our culture tells us that in order to be classified as successful, we must climb ladders. “Go away from home,” they say. “You must go away from home to earn that credible four-year degree so you can climb the ladder.”

            “Go somewhere else for graduate study,” they say. “Then you will be poised to climb that ladder.”

            “Move, transfer from here,” they say. “That’s how you climb the ladder.”

            “Work overtime, work seven days a week, focus solidly on your career, make your job the most important thing in your life,” they say. “This is how it’s done nowadays.”

            Maybe.   But Raymond has taught me a lesson that I will never forget. Unless your ladder is placed upon a solid foundation, things could get really dangerous.


            One paradigm that I find disturbing nowadays is the notion that the answer to all of our problems is always somewhere else. Ladder climbing falls into this category. The answer to everything is always up.

            It is very, very easy to squander our spiritual lives in our mobile culture. And, I get it!

We set out to make a name for ourselves. We are filled with idealistic visions that we’re going to be movers and shakers.

We’re going to be counted among those who’ve “made it.” We can climb that ladder all the way to the sky if we want to.

But the thing is…Raymond never saw it coming. All was fine and dandy up there on that ladder, right up until the point when the ground began to shift. He was totally blindsided and to be very honest, he is lucky he walked away with only a broken leg.

All ladders will sway from time to time. Cheryl told me last week of yet another person she knows whose company was bought out by a larger company and this woman will most likely be standing in line down at the unemployment office. Again!

We are blindsided by relationships that fall apart, marriages that end, a bad medical report and the mortifying fear of how we are going to pay for treatment. We are blindsided by catastrophic interruptions of our lives; and, even if we do survive them, our spirits are left famished.

At the end of the day, I suspect that all of us hunger for a life that is authentic and true.   We hunger for a life that is sustainable, solid and firm.

And…there is a solid rock upon which we can base our ladders. Before we were married, Cheryl and I decided that our ladder would be based firmly on the rock of Christ. In some way I supposed, we figured that we could follow Jesus better together than we could apart.

The apostle Paul is emphatic that you and I are not only embattled with what is seen in this world but against the demonic forces of darkness.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12 NIV).”

It is human nature I suppose to be drawn into ladder climbing. After all, our species has walked on the moon.

I am good with this ladder climbing business. We just need to make very sure that our ladder has a solid foundation.

“I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock (Luke 6:47-48a NIV).”

And, it does not hurt to have the number to 911 memorized just in case. Seriously, always plan for an out, “…a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord (Luke 2:11 b NIV).”



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