“The Mighty One, God, the LORD, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to the place where it sets…. ‘Gather to me my consecrated ones, who made a covenant with me by sacrifice.’” Psalm 50:1,5
The Christian life is like a spiral staircase winding upward to Heaven. The central support, the column of Truth, is made of pure gold, while the steps of obedience are of translucent crystal.
When we first become followers of Jesus, 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, pride, 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 rungs of the spiritual life.
When we come to the seventh step, we have to stop. The golden central support goes on up, but with nothing more to step up on, we are stymied.
“OK, Lord, I need another step to go higher!” we pray. No step is given, but in time a big black burden, some type of problem, appears on our shoulder.
“What’s this, Lord?” We exclaim. “I need a step up, not something to weigh me down!”
Then as we struggle to balance this burden, we realize it looks familiar. It is a variation of one of those sins we learned to deal with on the way up.
If we respond in repentance, we can lower this burden before the Lord, confessing our sin to Him, thanking Him for revealing this to us again and praising Him for His goodness and wisdom. As we do this, the black, ugly burden is miraculously transformed into translucent crystal, becoming the next step up!
So it goes: each problem that comes to us has the potential to be a burden or to be the next step up, moving us upward and onward 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 by faith 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 as acts of the will, not the emotions, 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 surrender to this temptation. Enjoy this sin!”
The truth is, however, that we are making progress, for each time we encounter the same sins we are on a higher level; and the answer is the same as before: praise God for the revelation, apply truth in obedience and repentance, and step up.
Prayer: “Lord, help me to cooperate with you as you desire to lead me on to higher levels. Help me to think as you think, to become a person of praise, turning problems into progress. Amen.”