Imagine you are waiting your turn to climb a ladder to safety when someone in front of you hesitates, afraid to start up. You cannot help them along by pushing unless they are willing to first put their foot on the bottom rung and reach up and grab the sides. Then they have to keep trying, putting their feet on the rungs and pulling up. You can assist with pushes from below, but if they freeze and stop moving, they will not make it up the ladder.
This principle applies to more than just climbing ladders. It has to do with how we deal with any situation or challenge we face in life. Robert Schuller once said, “Better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing flawlessly.” Unfortunately many people don’t even attempt some challenges because they fear failure. However, we have failed already if we don’t even try. We must be willing to take that first step up or we will never get off the ground. And then we have to keep on trying. Those behind us can give us words of encouragement and urge us on, but unless we do our part, we are doomed to failure.
More importantly, our salvation depends on whether we do our part. The Lord wants to give us eternal life, but he will not give it to those who will not put forth the effort. We must take the first step and believe and be baptized. Then we must strive earnestly to serve our God for the rest of our life. Although our efforts certainly do not earn us salvation, because it is the gift of God, God will not give salvation to someone who is not seeking it. Salvation is a very individual effort; no one can save someone else. We may hope that others seek salvation, but we cannot save them. We can help each other along the way to the Kingdom, but we cannot help someone who is not moving in that direction.
Each of us needs to look up to the top of the ladder, so to speak. We read in Hebrews, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” We are to follow our Lord, as he commanded us. He has shown us the way, as Jesus explains, “I am the way, the truth and the life: no one comes to the Father but by me.” The Lord Jesus certainly did all that it was possible for him to do so that we have the opportunity to be saved, but if we don’t do our part, if we won’t start the climb and keep climbing, we will fail.
Once we know what to do, we don’t just stand there; we must start, begin, proceed, move forward towards our goal of seeking first the Kingdom of God. We need to set our sights on our goal, and keep looking up as we take steps up the ladder toward the Kingdom. Begin with what we have right where we are and put one foot forward, then the other foot, and hold on and keep climbing. Our heavenly Father knows what we need to succeed, and He is willing to bless us exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think. No wonder Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me.” He could, and we can too, but we have to begin, get moving forward, and keep on keeping on.
Let us make the words of the apostle Paul true for us: “But this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forward unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
Robert J. Lloyd