Now Jacob went out from Beersheba and went toward Haran. So he came to a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. And he took one of the stones of that place and put it at his head, and he lay down in that place to sleep. Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And behold, the LORD stood above it and said: “I am the LORD God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.”
Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” Genesis 28:10-17 (NIV)
If getting to heaven requires climbing a ladder, I am in big trouble. I do not like ladders because I do not like heights. One afternoon when we were close to finishing up the barn, none of my husband’s friends were around to help at a critical point where two people needed to be on ladders. It was my barn, and I was eager to see the work finished, so I had no excuse but to help. My husband set a ten foot step ladder ten feet away from the barn. Then, he laid a twelve foot board on the edge of the roof and rested it on my ladder. He climbed up another ladder at the back of the barn and stuck the end of the long board underneath the rafters. He wanted to wedge that twelve foot board into a gap between the top of the wall and the bottom of the rafters. His job was to make sure that the board did not peel the metal roof back. My job was to stand on the very top of the ten foot ladder with nothing to brace myself upon and to hit the end of the board with a sledge hammer to drive it into place. Sure thing. With a reminder that it was my barn and my help was critical, I climbed to the very top of the ladder. The end of the board was behind me requiring me to hold onto the board and swing the sledge hammer backwards. After a few misses, I got the hang of it. As long as I focused on the work, I was okay. Then, my husband told me to stop hammering while he pried the roof up to make room for the board. While I rested, I looked around me and started to panic. I realized how high I was, and there was nothing to keep me from falling. I tried to hold it in, but soon was crying and blubbering about how scared I was. It caught my husband totally off guard. He knew I was afraid of mountains and bridges, but a ten foot ladder? Needless to say, he took over the job of hammering while I supervised from below. In an earlier post, Vicky of A Mark on My Wall http://amarkonmywall.wordpress.com/ stated that it is hard to find balance between grace and works. I agree. Sometimes, God calls me to get out there and work for Him, but sometimes, He lets me stand in the shade. I think the key is remembering that we are saved by His grace. We do not earn our way to heaven. It is a gift. We respond to His call to work out of obedience and in response to the great love He shows us. I climbed the ladder because I knew it needed to be done. Thankfully, unlike my ladder experience, when I am responding to God’s call to obey, He also gives me the courage to do it.