Trusting the path: A call to climb up life’s ladders

Recently, I was hiking in the Appalachian Mountains. As I climbed to a higher elevation, the paths became steeper, even to the point that climbing ladders was the only way I could continue upward. While restraining myself from looking down at the hundred-foot drop below me, I clung onto the ladder, praying that I wouldn’t fall, and pushed on to the next ladder. When the paths leveled out, however, I could choose between the paths facing north, south, east and west, none of which posed a significant risk.

In scary or scarce times, it can be easy to turn to God, as it becomes clear that some challenges simply cannot be overcome by one’s own strength or ability alone. After placing trust in the Lord while on the treacherous ladders of life, he calls us to follow his path on flat ground as well, which is far more difficult when other paths are presented, especially those that appear safer. But if God maintained his people in hard times, we ought to then rely on him in times of ease as well.

In 1936, Baylus Benjamin McKinney was at a church gathering in Clanton, Alabama, when a missionary named R. S. Jones sat down to have dinner with him. Jones explained that he was in poor health, so he would be unable to resume mission work in Brazil. When McKinney asked him what he would do next, Jones simply answered, “I don’t know, but wherever he leads, I’ll go.” This account from Hymn Studies Blog highlights the inspiration which prompted McKinney to write the hymn “Wherever He Leads, I’ll Go.”

“Take up thy cross and follow Me / I heard my Master say / I gave My life to ransom thee / Surrender your all today / Wherever He leads I’ll go.”

For some, like Jones, there are few directions to turn in life, especially after contracting a life-changing illness. But for me, who at present is faced with a multitude of different directions to choose from, sometimes it takes God placing me on a cliffside ladder to get through my unbelief and prompt me to do his will.

Even while I understand that God is trustworthy to lead me, I am reliably frail in faith when I believe I see a better path than the one he calls me toward. It is only his grace that reminds me and other Christ-followers that the path ahead of us is not without turmoil, distress, disappointment or anguish, but it is the only way out of the valley and into the security that only he can provide.

And when my climb is finished, marked by scraped hands and bruised knees, my only hope is that I will have persisted in the climb while carrying my cross. If I abandon it when the ladders of life become too treacherous, then the journey will have been for nothing.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light”
(Matthew 11:28-30).

Kilker is the opinion editor for the Liberty Champion

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