I was once at a confirmation service where the former Bishop of Exeter, Michael Langrish, gave an excellent sermon, using a ladder as an illustration. My memory of it is a little dim now, so I’ll be forgetting the nuances of his point, but in any case the image of a ladder has remained in my mind.
Think of it like this: You’ve got one of those ladders which is a straight tall thing, not one of those triangular ladders, and you’ve pushed it against the wall. You want to climb high up the ladder – maybe to rescue a cat, or pick an apple, or paint a ceiling. The ladder is unsupported at the bottom. How do you feel climbing it?
For so many of us, this is our spiritual life. We pray and live as though we are on a shaky ladder, trying to clim higher and impress God at the top. But God’s not just at the top.
God is the support. If you just look behind you, down the ladder, there is God – holding you steady, being there to catch you. In Ed Cyzewski’s book Flee, Be Silent, Pray, he writes that all contemplative prayer flows from the one simple understanding: God loves you. Utterly, unconditionally.
Jesus talked about the Holy Spirit as being an advocate, a companion, a support for us through our Christian life. Sometimes we forget God is with us. Sometimes we forget God is for us. Sometimes the ladder feels decidedly wobbly.
Today, I’m choosing to remember that God is before me but also behind me, with me. That’s what I’m picturing today: I’m on the ladder, and it’s firm, and I can hear God’s voice of reassurance as I climb.
'I'm choosing to remember that God is before me but also behind me, with me' - God As Support Click To Tweet
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you for ever – 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be[c] in you.”
– Jesus, John 14:16-17
Over to you:
- To what extent does this image of God ring true for you today?
- When are the times when you feel like God is supporting you?
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