**…rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in or hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. ** Romans 5:2b-5
Today’s post is a sequel to our post on payback.
Years ago, I learned the analogy that our lives with Christ are like a stairwell.
We all start out near the bottom of this learning stairwell and as we learn more about the Lord we are filled with His energy. We are ready to start walking and feel we can handle troubles with more strength and clarity.
Very soon after we begin our journey, we face the first step of the stairwell. Unexpected problems. Hardship. Pain. Tribulation. We might even pull a spiritual muscle on that first step. Our faith may hit a little crisis. The bubble we thought we now lived in, the one where we thought nothing could go wrong because we have met God, has burst.
Usually the first little problems are light, simple issues. Fairly easy to overcome. A quick pause and we are ready to climb to the next step. Patience. From our little altercation with reality on the first step, we realize that it might take some time to learn this new life in Christ. So we decide to be more patient with the process.
These first two steps may need to be traveled a few times. Up, down, up, down. Because the goal from these first steps is …experience. Experience in handling problems with prayer, faith and patience. But once we arrive at the experience step, we are feeling a little better about our climb and we know a little more about God. We are learning to navigate the steps.
With courage, we take one more step up the stairwell. We’ve had our first problems, learned a little patience and gained a little experience. All together it brings us to the step of hope. We know now what it requires to stay on the stairwell. We realize we need some healthy habits to keep us spiritually fit. Some reading, some prayer, Sunday church, Life groups….Stair Master Training.
Hope keeps pushing us through the training. We see that we have overcome the first steps with the Lord’s help and keeping up with our daily habits. Now, we are ready to talk about what we have learned, and about how the Lord is changing us from the inside out. We are not ashamed of the process or the Master Trainer. We begin to share our new life with those who don’t know the Master and with those that are just starting their training. We are bold and brave and vocal about it all.
Then, we finally reach the last step. The Love of God. Our hearts are filled with the desire for others to know Him like we know Him. We have arrived. We have made it up all six steps.
The thing is that the Lord’s stairwell isn’t like the stairs that lead to our front door. They are more like the stairwell in the Statue of Liberty or the Eiffel Tower. Or maybe Jacob’s ladder. The stairwell keeps going up and up. All the way to Heaven.
Just when we make it up those first 6 steps and we find ourselves on the nice, flat platform where we can rest and catch our breath, we look up. There’s another set of steps. Six more steps. And this time the names are written on them…tribulation, patience, experience, hope, boldness, Love of God. Now, we know what to expect from the climb.
Now, we have a choice. Keep climbing or go back down where life was easier and didn’t make our leg muscles hurt so much or leave us out of breath. We can step onto the next season of problems or choose safe and simple.
The children of Israel had to make that choice when they had to cross the Jordan River to gain access to the Promised Land. Sadly, some chose to stay on the ‘safe’ side of the Jordan.
But the ones that crossed over, that started up the next part of the stairwell, saw miracles. They saw so many things that cannot be adequately explained in words. They had to be lived!!! No matter how many stories they told about Jericho, it was something that had to be experienced. The sight,the sound, the smell, the feel of the ground trembling as those massive walls fell cannot be fully conveyed around a campfire.
One can’t fully be impacted by the miracle if one is not 100% living it. Staying on the safe side of the river or not being willing to climb higher on the stairwell will cause one to miss out on some amazing encounters with the Master Trainer.
And at the top of the next set of steps, the Love of God is waiting for us. We will be showered with His Love and understand more of its depth.
And if we are brave enough to continue up another set of steps and another and another…we will learn more about the breadth and length and height of His Love for us as well. There will be no end to learning about His Love because it has no limits.
A final bonus to this challenging climb up God’s stairwell. We will reflect the Love of God to others. We will be so filled with the knowledge of the magnitude of Christ’s love for us that it will spill out of us onto others without hardly trying.
Like any long winding stairwell, every step looks the same but each new one costs us more to conquer it. But the strong, determined, and goal oriented ones will make it to the top. They know that what is waiting for them at the top is worth every muscle cramp, every misstep, every choking breath. But each time these repeated lessons make us leaner. It rids us of excess fat, fruitless weight. It rids us step by step of what keeps us from reaching the top. And though the lessons are the same over and over again, the understanding is deeper, wiser and more transforming.
The Spiral Stairwell is waiting for each of us. Waiting to test us and strengthen us. Calling to us to step up in faith. Challenging us to discover the miracles that are waiting on the highest levels. Beckoning us to not skip any of the lessons to be learned and rejoicing at each resting point where we can see how far we have already come.
Are we up to the challenge and ready to take the next step?