Standing on Ladders

   More than twenty years ago, following blood clots in my leg that resulted in pulmonary emboli, doctors issued very stern warnings toward me regarding the use of ladders. At first, “Nothing higher than a six-foot ladder,” and more recently, “Nothing more than a very short step stool – and then only if absolutely necessary!” Well, sometimes a man just has to do what a man thinks he has to do! Today, I learned the precise reason for the doctors' orders: I get dizzy when standing on only the first rung of any ladder! I wanted to display only six items on the wall; just six small nails to hold the frames and it wouldn’t take long … or so I thought. But that seemingly simple task proved very difficult for me. I couldn’t steady myself on the ladder well enough to reach across and hammer the nails into the wall. Then hanging the picture frames got a little disconcerting as I couldn’t get them to hang straight. I had to sit down and rest, get my “bearings” and try again … and again … and again. After a half-hour or so, for a job that twenty years ago would have taken only a couple of minutes, I finished and said, “It’s good enough for who it’s for!” and sat down … again!

   Yes, others would have gladly done this for me; ones with much more ability and stamina to stand on a ladder and punch a few nails into a wall and hang a few pictures. But like most “stubborn” men (I admit it), I wanted to do it myself … and now realize just how dangerous that simple task was and how long it took me to stop shaking from the weakness caused by standing on a ladder. And yes, I knew better but thought “just this little bit” would exempt me. Lesson learned!

   This is what happens when “ego” takes over common sense! Webster defines ego as, “the self especially as contrasted with another self or the world.” In other words, “self” thinks it knows more than anyone or anything else! So determined is “self” to prove all other people and things as being wrong, “self” ignores the facts, the warnings, and the ones who have the truth of the matter! Spiritually speaking, “self” equals those with “carnal minds” (Romans 6:8). As Paul warned Timothy, those with “ego” problems “turn away their ears from the truth and are turned to fables.” (2 Timothy 4:4) Those who stoned Stephen did so because of their “ego” (Acts 7: 57 – 58).

   When people go about seeking their own righteousness, they fail to submit to the righteousness of God (Romans 10: 1 – 4). Every religion of man is based on man’s ego instead of God’s truth! Man honestly believes he can defy the knowledge, wisdom, and spoken truth of God, and not get “dizzy” as he goes about to accomplish his desires. While it may appear he has done a good job, the fact is the appearance is hiding facts! Spiritually speaking, man’s religions result in bent nails, insecure pictures, and crooked hangings! Oh, most will complement the appearance and try not to criticize the workmanship. But friend, God knows and God judges! If it isn’t accomplished according to HIS will, it simply isn’t accomplished!

   If the Great Physician says, “Stay off the ladder,” then stay off the ladder! By inspiration, James says, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up.” (4:10) Paul said, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:12) When we spiritually attempt to do what we cannot do, we will fail! It’s as if we’re standing on a ladder when told not to – trying to elevate ourselves above the decree of our Creator. It is sheer defiance of His orders and displays that detestable “ego.”

   Not until man realizes he (man) is not exempted from the commandments of God will man become secure … even when standing on level ground! The higher man elevates his ideas above the stated truth of God, the farther man will fall. Regardless of the grandeur of man’s desires, if they are established upon any foundation other than apostles and prophets with Jesus Christ being the chief corner stone (Ephesians 2:20) those desires will fail because they have not the sure foundation needed to save our souls (2 Timothy 2:19). It matters not at all how well educated or experienced or enthusiastic one might be regarding spiritual matters, if God hasn’t authorized the item from foundation to finish, it’s eternal death to “stand on the ladder of man.” (Matthew 7:24 – 27).

   Physically, yes there are several things I’d love to do regarding things around my home; and several of those things require the use of a ladder. But safety and experience have taught me the doctors are right: I must stay off the ladder or risk falling and subsequent serious injury. It isn’t worth the risk. Besides, I don’t like pain! So it’s an easy decision – either let it go, or find someone qualified in every way to do the work from a ladder. If folks can understand that simplicity, why can’t folks understand they can’t do what God has forbidden? Mankind sins when he goes beyond the commandments of God (1 John 3:4). It is not safe for the soul to go beyond God’s commandments! Why can’t mankind, including Christians learn to “stay off the ladder” and just serve God as God directs us to serve Him?