Climbing Life’s Ladder
When I think about my own experience and the experience of many of my friends that I get to live with and pastor, I think the most common metaphor that we live with is that our lives are ladders that we climb, rung by rung. Or, a building that we build, brick by brick. The rungs are going to be different for different people.
Maybe the next rung is the perfect graduate school or finishing graduate school with the perfect job offers. Maybe that rung is meeting Mr. or Mrs. Right and starting a family. Those rungs are going to be different for different people, but we imagine our lives as an upward climb. We imagine that wall taking shape, brick by brick.
Those next rungs or those next bricks capture a lot of our attention and our affection. We live for them, in many ways. Jesus doesn’t actually promise us that we will reach that next rung. Even if we were to reach that next rung, he doesn’t promise us that it will hold us when we plant our full weight of our lives and our significance on them. He doesn’t promise us that once we reach the rungs that we were reaching for, that we won’t actually fall back down to a lower rung, that we won’t lose what we’ve gained.
If we see our lives through the truth about death, then Jesus’s promises begin to take on an entirely different tone for us.
If our hearts are set on the rungs that we’re reaching for, then of course Jesus’s promises are going to be detached from our lives—they’re going to seem like they were for some other people with other concerns and other interests and not for me.
Slipping Towards Our End
We must recognize that’s not the right metaphor for life. We’re not all climbing ladders, rung by rung. We’re actually slipping and sliding on an ice-covered mountain towards a cliff that we can’t avoid. Every moment, every breath takes us closer to that cliff, and there’s nothing we can do, accomplish, or hold onto that will keep us from that end.
If we see our lives through the truth about death, then Jesus’s promises begin to take on an entirely different tone for us, because then what we have is not the promise of another rung to reach, but the promise that when we fall, we fall on him. When we fall on him, he will not let us go.
We have the promise of a resurrection that’s as certain as his own, a body that’s unkillable—just like his.
- An Open Letter to Those Living for Tomorrow (Matthew McCullough)
- Practical Tips to Prepare for the End of Life (John Dunlop, MD)
- Why It’s Destructive to Deny God’s Sovereignty in Suffering (Cameron Cole)