Mount Everest is the tallest mountain on the planet. It towers so far into the sky that the air begins to thin long before climbers can reach its pinnacle. If anyone wants to become closer to God, it seems obvious that the tip of that great mountain is the place to be.
Yet, no one who climbs Everest does so by watching the sky. If a climber keeps his eyes on the summit, his feet will slip, and he will never reach his goal. The path to the top of Everest is littered with the bodies of men who had good intentions, yet glanced away at just the wrong time, and tumbled to their deaths, their dreams dashed with their bodies.
Reaching heaven is much the same. Our goal is lofty, but the pathway is wrought with slippery slopes and knife-edged precipices we must walk. Look away for even the briefest of times, and we can slip right down the side.
Paul tells us our success is dependent on the ground under our feet. We don’t “float” into heaven. Rather, we walk upon the stones, the lowly objects, the muddy paths that make up our world. God uses those things that muddy our feet in order to bring great glory to him. We walk upon the stones that we may one day reside with him in his heavenly glories.
We must look down in order to look up.
1 Corinthians 1:27-28 explains God’s path up the mountain, telling us just where we need to step to traverse the slippery slopes and sharp precipices on our way to heaven. Paul gives us three specific ways God keeps us on safe ground on our walk toward him.
Safe Step #1 – The Stones of Foolishness
God chooses foolish things to confound the wise. Man, in his wisdom, looks to the natural world in his search for understanding. However, God operates in the spiritual world, and his “foolish” stones are the very ones that will give us firm footing as we climb toward him.
Safe Step #2 – The Muddy Paths of Weakness
Mud is slippery, and when we place our foot down, one slip is all it takes to slide all the way down the mountainside. However, that is where God gives us firm footing. He wants the world to look at us, expecting us to flounder, only to see the firm hand of God underneath every step we take. Then they will know he is the one that steadies us in our weakness.
Safe Step #3 – The Knife-Edged Precipices of the Corrupt
If we are good in ourselves, then what credit does God receive when we reach that heavenly peak? He receives glory when he lifts us from the corrupt situations of the world. When our past causes others to despise us, then each step of our ascent toward our goal glorifies his holy name.
Yet, even as God gives us footholds along the way, there are times when we look ahead, and there is no path to be found. All we see is a chasm of emptiness stretching as far as we can see. What do we do then?
Verse 28 tells us that God loves to take nothing and make it into something. When there is no path before us, and the mountain is too big, he will form our next step out of thin air. He will be the bridge that spans the empty spaces. He will be our support, lifting us up, until we are on firm footing once again.
The person who decides to climb Everest, hoping to reach the summit, reaches his goal by watching every footstep. We reach heaven the same way. If we stare at our goal, ignoring all that is around us, we will stumble and fall. If we pay attention to where we place our feet, God will give us firm footing all the way.
Heaven is our goal, but we must watch every footstep along the way. Otherwise, we will stumble and fall.
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