The Mustard Seed – Lesson For living
THE LADDER OF LIFE
Picture with me a ladder, a straight ladder with no supports. Not a stepladder or an extension ladder but the type you would lean up against the house to climb up on the roof. Picture it as long as your imagination will allow you.
Let the bottom of the ladder represent your birth into this world and the very top of the ladder represent your departure from it.
Stand this ladder in an upright position for it is going to represent all your life from start to finish. If you picture long life for yourself, see the ladder extending to a great height, even out of sight, it goes so high.
Now how is this ladder supported? It is supported by standing it on solid ground. The solid ground represents, among other things, faith, integrity and truth. Remember the ladder represents you. Let it represent you well after your departure. If people have nothing to say about you after your departure, then perhaps you didn’t do all you could have.
Let the foundation for your ladder come from a solid philosophy about life. Let it be the philosophy of a winner. Let it be the philosophy of one who has experienced both winning and loosing for life is a mixture of up and down. You cannot expect to win at all things but you can expect to receive all that life has to offer if you will take the good with the bad, mix them together, knowing that all things work together for good and hopefully your life will make a statement in your philosophy that there was more good than bad.
Let the rungs represent your successes.
You can picture as many rungs as you want on this ladder because it is your ladder. You and you alone are responsible for it. Let the rungs also represent your failures for there will be many throughout your lifetime. As you venture deeper into life, years having passed by, you can look back and hopefully the success/failure ratio will be to your benefit.
I hope you do not look back and say, “My, what a waste.” Others might say that about you, but not you. There will always be jealousy from others because of your accomplishments. There will also be those who will tell you, “I told you so.” Pay no attention to them.
Get as far away from them as possible. Their goal is to make everyone else look bad and they look good. You do not need them on your ladder. They will only take up space. The people that you want on your ladder are those who are going the same direction you are, and that is up.
No other direction in life satisfies like ‘up’ does.
Let me quickly define success. It is a few simple disciplines practiced every day for the rest of your life. Ancient Script gives this definition for success. It is acting wisely in the affairs of life and/or handling accurately the affairs of life.
I cannot leave this without giving you the definition for failure. Failure is daily errors in judgment left unattended resulting in chaos and failure. When you fail, and you will, you must attend the errors in judgment that caused the failure and correct them, otherwise, you will continue to fail until you care not about failure.
It will then become part of you and you will have missed life still standing on the first rung of your ladder.
Let the first few rungs on the ladder represent your years of life from birth up to your teen years. Since this is your life you can place yourself on whatever rung of the ladder you think you have achieved to and you get to show your own personal growth record.
Suppose everything goes really well and you are now approaching adulthood. Life takes on a different meaning. It becomes a struggle as you climb the ladder. Prior to this things were not that difficult. You rocked along with not much responsibility and life was a fun game.
But now life is no longer a game. You are now a participant in a serious adventure called life. This adventure will include other people and relationships will enter the picture. Had there been only one of you and no other people, life would have been a breeze. But others have come to intrude on your adventure and cause complexities.
It is called living.
The rungs of your ladder could represent your past accomplishments and successes and perhaps a few errors in judgment called failures which means something less than hoped for. You say, “I didn’t bargain for this but here it is. I guess I am going to have to deal with it.” Errors in judgment are things that happen when you are out of focus on what is really required for living life successfully.
However they must happen in life since that is how we learn. Hopefully we don’t go back and repeat the same errors. This would be foolhardy and there is nothing to gain from such action. Sadly, too many people do this. They live in the same old ruts day after day satisfied that life has dealt them misery and there is nothing they can do about it.
They have surrended to failure and failure has them in its grip. The grip is so tight that it chokes any visions of hope and success. They can see no further than the failure that lies within them.
Life is a mixture of wins and losses. Don’t count just your wins.
You did not learn from them. But count your losses and celebrate them as learning times for from them come the greatest lessons of life. Continue life. It is going to go on anyway, with or without you so you might just as well enjoy the ride. Hopefully your life’s ledger will have more assets than liabilities.
Remember that no team wins all the games. But if you continue to swing every time the ball is pitched, you will eventually hit a homer. So don’t give up swinging. Practice your swing every day. Who knows when you might just hit one out of the ballpark? When you do, don’t forget how you did it and continue doing it the same way.
Some balls are pitched to get you out of the game. Some are pitched to see how good you are. Swing at the good balls and forget the others.
Let’s proceed up our ladder. What is our purpose for climbing the ladder? Why should we reach out to success?
Because it is within us to do so. It was created in us. The Master Creator did not create us as failures but as winners. All we have to do is follow the rules given us. It would be sad indeed if at age fifty we looked back and saw that we had barely left the first few rungs of the ladder.
That was where we were when we first started out in life.
There are at least two reasons why man will climb the ladder. The obvious is to get to the top. But why the top? One, man is greedy and selfish. His only reason for reaching the top is for personal gain at the expense of others not at the service of others.
The second reason a man climbs the ladder is to take others with him. It might be called mentoring. If you were on rung X of the ladder and saw others beneath you seeking success, what would you do for them? Most would bring those beneath them to the rung they are on. That is called positioning so that you do not get any higher in life than I do.
But the person who loves to see others win would position the success seeker a rung above him. Why? Because it is the right thing to do. But there is another reason. Suppose you get stuck on rung X. The person whom you elevated to the rung above you could now reach down and elevate you to the rung above him and the process continues throughout life.
It is called helping other people. Someone said if you will help enough people in life get what they want, there will come a time in your own life in which you will get everything you want. It is called reciprocity or the law of mutual exchange.
Have you ever climbed an ice-covered ladder?
I have and many times because I was raised in Maine where the winters can get quite severe. It is quite a sight to see someone do that. Dangerous yes, but funny also if taken in the right spirit. One rung up and two down. You never seem to get anywhere.
The top was always just out of reach. I use to climb the ladder in the wintertime to shovel the snow off the roof of the old house I had lived in. Rather than try to break the ice off the rungs for some sure footing, I would attempt this 7-8 foot climb barely making it at times.
Most of the time I just gave up. That is what most people do; they simply give up. I know because I was one of them. When the going gets a little slippery and tough to manage and you seem to be making no headway, toughen up, don’t give up, and get on with it.
Once past the rough, tough spots, you will make some major headway until the next storms of life come around. Here is some good news. You WILL survive the storms of life. You will handle the next rungs on your ladder of life because you had the guts to tackle those beneath you.
Those are your victories. It is so much fun getting to the top and looking down realizing your determination to win outweighed the weight of regret for not having tried. Cleaning up the rungs on the ladder of life as you go helps you to maintain the forward motion necessary for the next rung, and the next, until you reach the top.
Get the obstacles out of the way. Make a pathway AND keep looking up.
I remember another time while working for a utility company, I climbed a high-line pole out in a pasture, which was totally covered with ice about a ½” inch thick. To top that of it was in the middle of a sleet storm and at nighttime. President Eisenhower had just been elected president of the United States. Searchlights were beaming up at me from several utility trucks below making it even more difficult to see what with the sleet and snow. It all froze immediately as it hit the ground including the pole I was about to climb. A power line had come loose because of the weight of the ice on it and fell on a small herd of cattle below killing several. Our job was to re-string the wire. I was elected to climb the pole.
Harnessed up, I began the long climb to the top carrying heavy gear as I went. Slamming my spikes in the side of the pole dislodged some of the ice but there was still some that remained. I was having a very tough time. It was so cold that my joints were aching and the climb was very slow and tedious. I slipped several times and would plummet a few feet towards the ground when I’d get a spike driven into the wood of the pole and stop the descent. Scared? No, of course not. Scared to death, yes. I finally made it to the top, did what I was supposed to do and began my climb down. New ice had formed on the pole and it was more difficult going down then it was going up.
It’s not easy loosing ground especially when you have come so far. But it is necessary sometimes. Sometimes it is class time. It could be time to sit and be taught. Most adults don’t like that, but it to is necessary. Don’t stay in class to long. Put into practice what you’ve learned. That’s why they made those chairs so small in the early grades of school. Adults don’t fit in them. Stay only long enough to learn the lessons of life for your particular situation and circumstance. After all, a circumstance is only the place where you are standing right now. You can move from it anytime you want to. ‘Want to’ is the key. You’ve got to learn to handle trouble before you can be blessed.
Now why these two stories you ask? Because both of them resemble our climb up the ladder of life. Sometimes it is perilous. Sometimes it is scary and sometimes fun. It is a mixture of things. But most of the time it is fun.
What a relief it was to get to the top of that pole. I had not thought about the difficulty in coming down especially what with the new ice that had formed.
A like situation happened to me when I climbed The Enchanted Rock in Fredericksburg Texas. I did it twice; once when I was 65 and the second when I was 69. It is about an hour to the top of the barren rock mountain and at an upward angle of about 30 pound weight loss before and after to 40 degrees. It is tough to say the least and not for the faint of heart. Many gave up after just a few feet of climbing. It was especially hard if climbed in the summer and the heat soared in the afternoon sometimes to over 100 degrees. But the real problem was coming down. If you let your body momentum carry you to fast you would come crashing down possibly ending up with some very serious injuries.
Life is a climb but not necessarily a continuous climb. There will be detours, many of which will be unexpected. The question is how will you handle them? There will be times in which you will loose a fair amount of ground but the good news is you can continue the climb after the battle. You do not have to stay on the bottom rungs of your ladder of life.
There will be times in your life in which you will neither ascend nor descend. You’ll stay right where you are until valuable lessons are learned and experienced. It is called learning time. To ascend without learning valuable lessons for living will only cause you to plummet ground ward, sometimes never to recover from the fall.
There will be many opponents as you strive toward that which is good. Who are they? Anyone who is opposed to your forward movement in life. It is anyone who cannot stand to see others win. You will find them on every street corner. Stay alert and be aware of them. Their goal in life is to see you fall and to stay in that fallen condition. You are not a threat to them as long as you stay down.
Now there is a major opponent we ALL will constantly have trouble with. He seems to show up at every turn in the road especially when we are trying our best to move forward in our endeavors. He is the same one who whispered to Eve. “Go ahead Eve, make my day.
Have a bite.” Well she did and she got knocked off her ladder big time. So did her husband Adam. In fact it was so serious, they were expelled from their own home called Paradise. Now that is a fall! What a way to go. They had it made, but that is another story and for another time.
PART TWO FOLLOWING