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  • Writer's pictureJubilee Lipsey

Push Up Higher

Have you ever had God meet you on a climbing wall? Oh yes, He did.

Let me just tell you right now, if you feel like you're not hearing from God or He has nothing to say to you, start praying prior to and then debriefing your experiences with Him. I mean anything...road trips, surprise parties, fishing excursions, and yes, climbing, if that's your thing. I didn't think it was mine, but I was with my very athletic husband and some competitive friends, so I was determined to do my best.

After the first successful climb, I was encouraged to push even higher and farther, in between breaks to let my burning muscles relax. We were on auto-belay harnesses, which means they would catch us if we fell, taking us all the way back to the ground. It was satisfying to scramble up a wall, get to a stopping point, and then push past it over and over, going farther than you thought was possible. But just in case you don't plan on trying it yourself any time soon, here's what I learned from God about myself and faith in the process.

First, it was always the step I didn't want to take that stood between myself and victory. Each climb inevitably brought me to a place where I felt stuck, unsure of where to go next. I had a limited amount of time to strategize before my muscles would get tired of hanging on the wall. At that point, my body would start negotiating with my brain, convincing me that the next step was too much of a stretch and it was ok to just sink back to the ground and retry. But that tough step would still be waiting for me in the same spot if I started over. And this time, I would be even more tired.

God helped me realize that this is often the way I approach life. I scramble confidently up the steps that have been clearly laid out for me, grateful for God's strong arms keeping me safe. But then I get to a point where the next step is not as simple or easy, doesn't feel as safe, or represents something I just plain don't want to do. That happened more and more often towards the end of our climbing adventure. As we got tired, we started looking at those difficult steps with more contempt, figuring it didn't really matter if we made it all the way to the top. We started to lack motivation as the prize seemed to shrink before the cost.

Sound like a familiar place to anyone?

Then, there were my trust issues. The scariest part for me ironically was sitting back into the harness and letting it propel me gently to the ground. I expended a lot of needless energy climbing all the way back to the floor because my mind just wouldn't allow my body to let go of the wall. I started to realize that the harness represents the hand of God in our lives. We're locked into Him; He's fastened around us like armor, and as we run the race of our faith, He's the strength and safety and support enabling us to make it.

He's been where we're going, and He's laid out the steps. But we still have to be willing to take them. The harness is holding us up, but we have to plant our feet, adjust our grip, and push up higher. One step closer to the end.

If we don't lean into Christ's strength, we'll grow weary and start to despise the prize because we're comparing it to what we can do in our own feeble might. If we don't trust Christ's strength, we'll expend needless energy protecting ourselves in all the wrong ways, convincing ourselves that we're alone and not equipped. If we don't utilize Christ's strength to push up onto the next step, we won't actually make progress.

The Apostle Paul, who often likened the Christian life to a race said, "Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own because Christ has made me His own. I press on for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:14)!

We were meant to do the same, and we're thoroughly equipped for it in Christ.

Next time you reach that dreaded step and doubt whether or not you can do it, remember that the harness will catch you if you fall; if it turns out to be more of a struggle than you anticipated, you can regain your strength while God hones your faith. But if God has led you to it, that means it's a step you were designed to take, and now you're one step closer to the prize.

It's totally worth it at the top.

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