The Christian life is like a spiral staircase winding up to Heaven. The framework is made of pure gold, the steps of translucent crystal.
When we first become believers there are seven steps in place, taking us up one full turn of the stairway. Each step is a major lesson the Lord has for us, teaching us the basics in dealing with our personal sinful tendencies and practices, such as impatience, selfishness, jealousy, greed or lust.
Depending on how teachable we are, going up these first steps may go quite quickly, or may take us a long, long time. Some who are unwilling to learn and repent may never make it up these seven steps at all; their refusal to listen to the Spirit strands them on the lower steps of the spiritual life.
When we come to the seventh step we have to stop. The framework goes on up, but with nothing more to tread on, we are stuck.
“Ok, Lord, I need another step to go higher!” we pray. No step is given; but in time, a big black burden, a difficulty, appears on our shoulder. “What’s this, Lord?!!!” We exclaim. “I need a step up, not something to weigh me down!”
As we struggle to balance this burden, we realize it looks familiar. It is one of those seven sins we learned to deal with on the way up. Then, if in repentance we lower this burden before the Lord, confessing our sin to Him, thanking Him for revealing this to us again, praising Him for His goodness and wisdom, the burden is miraculously transformed into the next crystal step up!
So it goes: each problem that comes to us has the potential to be a burden, a barrier, or to move us upward in our walk with Jesus. The key is our response to it. As Psalm 50:23 says “He who offers the sacrifice of thanksgiving [giving thanks when we don’t feel like it] honors me, and opens the way that I may show him the salvation of the Lord.” Praise and thanksgiving given out of faith are powerful transformers of problems and sins into the next step up.
As we spiral up the staircase, we will have to deal with the same weaknesses of our character over and over. Satan will say, “Look, you aren’t making any progress; you might as well just give in and enjoy this temptation!” The truth, however, is that we are making progress, for we are encountering the same sins on a higher level; and the biblical solution to the temptation and failure is the same as before. Apply the answer, praise God, step up.
In this life there is no end to the possibilities of progressing up this golden stairway, of getting to know God better and better, of seeing more and more victory in our lives. The key is: am I willing to praise for what I would naturally complain about? “Give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thes. 5:18