Saturday, July 24, 2004

Mountain Climbing
Jasper Speaks:
Sin is something I hate very much. I get so annoyed with myself when I fail God. I just want to scream at myself sometimes. Will I ever, ever learn? I hate that there is this part of me that loves to hold onto the things in my life that I know disgust God. Still, I always return to those things, like a dog to his own vomit. I try to shed this carnal guy that lives with me and focus on spiritual things but often I fail.

This week has been a week of failures. I have fallen more frequently than I have in months. I am ashamed to approach the throne of God's grace because I have asked for forgiveness time and time again and still return to the sins that have haunted me for years.

It is like I am rock climbing. I start at rock bottom. Secure. My feet planted solidly. But I realize that there is a great treasure to be had at the top of the mountain. I know in my heart that if I reach the top, I will never again want for anything. I just have to get there.

So I start to climb. The climb is clumsy at first. I stumble some as I try to find a good foothold.  Still, I keep trying. Then I reach my stride. I am finding hand and footholds as I need them. I can see the treasure. I know it is right within my grasp. Just a little more and I can touch it. I feel like I am making great progress when --- BOOM! I lose my footing.

As I tumble to rock bottom again, I fight with myself. I call out, "stupid", "idiot", "when are you ever going to learn"? After a bit of wallowing in self pity, I convince myself that it is time to once more try to scale the mountain. Just when I reach my stride, down I fall again. This pattern repeats itself over and over. I want to taste the thrill victory but find myself ever choking on the agony of defeat. After awhile I once more wind up at rock bottom, frustrated and angry with myself.

There is a way out of this mess. I know there is. But in my pursuit for the prize I often neglect it. You see, I cannot climb the rock wall. It is way beyond my abilities. I keep trying but I can never succeed. It is a pretty hopeless place to be. Then I realize that standing beside me is the expert rock climber. He is eager for me to lay down my rock climbing tools. He wants me to toss my rope aside. He wants me to climb on His back and let him carry me to the top. He isn't interested in how many attempts I have made on my own. He has been watching all this time. He has studied my futility. He has witnessed every misstep. Sometimes, at rock bottom, I have asked for His advice but I ignore it every time. You see, He says, the rocks are too difficult for me to maneuver. I can never make it. Only the expert rock climber can successfully get to the top of the mountain. But every time, I continue to try and find a way to climb in my own strength. I have been tricked into believing that the climb is about me, that it is about my effort, when it is not.

You see, I keep trying to conquer sin on my own. That will never work. Sure, I spend time in the Word of God; I pray. Yet, in the midst of all that effort, I have to learn to turn the control back over to Jesus. I have to say, "Bible study and prayer are only a path to know you better. You have to climb the rocks for me, Jesus. I have to let go of my will and turn it over completely to you." I don't know about you, but I find those words very difficult to utter.
Perhaps, pride is the greatest sin of all. It is what continually keeps me from relinquishing control. I may not always be able to identify it but it is always there. The greatest understanding to be obtained is that Christ conquered sin on the cross. The battle is over. I just have to let Him take away the parts of me that don't reflect Him. I have to say, "Jesus, please let me climb on Your shoulders and let you carry me to the treasure that awaits at the top of the mountain". I pray that in the midst of my pride, I will find the strength to utter that simple prayer.

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