Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that everyone will see your progress. Be conscientious about how you live and what you teach. Persevere in this, because by doing so you will save both yourself and those who listen to you. (1 Timothy 4:15, 16)

“Brad, do you have me?” I yelled down to my climbing partner. 

I trusted Brad with my life, but I was at the crux, and needed reassurance that he held the rope. My route petered out, so I traversed diagonally on a face barren of holds to a new line of ascent. Brad fed rope while I aimed for a fissure. An unsafe separation yawned between me and the last anchor. My fear practically melted the fraction of rock beneath each fingertip.

I reached the new crack exhausted and shaking. As I fumbled to set up a safety station, my toehold slipped and down I went. That off-center anchor—placed somewhere back in history—held, but scudded me across granite like a pendulum through a thirty foot drop. The results were cracked ribs, ample scrapes, and comically tattered shorts. Not to mention a significant loss of elevation.

I love climbing for one reason—topping out. Overcoming a route, especially a difficult one, yields a victory like nothing else. Not once has a great climb failed to elicit jumping and whooping. The perils melt away, and I can’t wait for the next climb.

My climb toward God has been one harrowing segment after another. I cling to ledges of truth with rubbery arms and legs. What if I fall? I know Jesus is trustworthy on the other end of the rope, but will my faith anchors prove too flimsy and pop off, one after the other, like a giant zipper? The last solid encounter I had with God is so far back I’m petrified. Even if the anchors hold, a moral fall could mean a brutal loss of elevation. Still, I inch upward.

Overriding the fear is the adrenalin rushing prospect of topping out in paradise. I see myself crawling over the final edge to find Jesus waiting with dancing and whoops.

Prayer: Jesus, victory with you is worth every risk.