Don Goulding - Blog

Climbing With Jesus

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.

Last Are First

But many who are first will be last, and the last first. (Matthew 19:30)

Perhaps heaven dwellers look on the veil over earth and see only glimpses into our gray turmoil. They’re probably no more interested in our routine goings-on than a skydiver is interested in reading the phonebook. Their side has all the excitement.

Heavenly values are reversed on earth. The places and beings that shine the brightest glory in paradise mean little to us. Yet, if someone in heaven were to look into our world, they could spot our rare sources of glory.

An angel peered through the glassy curtain, but our theater-like darkness hid the details. His eyes were accustomed to the light of the throne. He began to discern shapes and movement. A politician lunched with a religious leader, they were a gray haze. In our skyscrapers, cathedrals, and all Seven Wonders of the World, he saw crumbling heaps.

With a start, the angel glimpsed a streak of color in the distance. A beam shot past our atmosphere, beyond Pluto, and into the farthest stars. It effervesced in purple and gold splendor across the universe. Beings of every celestial species applauded.

Curious about the source, the observer flew to ground zero. A wheezing old woman, disfigured by a birth defect, hunkered on the floor. Cold in her rags, she prayed for those who had tormented her when she was a youth. She loved them because Jesus loved her.

The angel burst into celebration, sang with the volume of a thousand voices, and zipped in figure eights above the women’s head.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, lift up those who have been last, but who loved you most.

His Power

Toward this goal I also labor, struggling according to his power that powerfully works in me. (Colossians 1:29)

We were like a bunch of overripe bananas, tired and mushy. Inside the bus, our puffy eyed team bounced toward day three of ministry in southern India. We should have faced it with eagerness, but it was one more horde of the impoverished among back-to-back outreaches. We sped toward the hungry village with nothing left to give.

“Lord Jesus, fill us again. Breathe life and fresh power,” we prayed between potholes.

 As we waited on the faithfulness of God, he spoke these words through Luke 10:19:“I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions, and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.” 

That passage stopped the lies of Satan’s mouth, who said our success came from our effort instead of our authority. We had made the mistake of fighting with soulish energy.

If we identify the soul as the human elements of mind and emotion, we can see why it is quickly spent. Unless the Holy Spirit spills through our spirit, we humans have little to give. The Lord called us to a less emotionally entangled and more authoritatively dependent role. He wanted us to rest in his power and simply call out the deeds he wanted done.

Giving to others from my resources, wisdom, and energy is exhausting work. Ministering in Christ’s muscle and authority leaves me invigorated, humbled, and laughing at the impossible.

Happily, our team shifted gears and experienced God’s powerful love flowing through us, and into his Asian children. We finished our eleven days, and in thirty-six outreaches saw hundreds saved, healed, and delivered—by God’s strength. 

Instead of squishy bananas, we returned home with the zing of mangos.

Prayer: Mighty Jesus, let your power flow through me.