Christian Growth

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Climbing the Wall

  • Author: By Greg Stoughton
  • Published: July 1, 2010

Dangling the legs of my seventh-grade frame a foot or so above ground, I gazed skyward from the bottom of a board that extended five feet upward with two parallel columns of holes. Two fingers and half-a-thumb of both my hands, deformed from birth, wrapped around two pegs. The goal was to lift myself by moving the pegs up, and then back down, one hole at a time.

I immediately slipped from the pegs and landed on a mat—almost certain that I could go shoot baskets once more. Instead, Coach Newberry said, “You have seven days to get it done, or you won’t pass this part of the class.”

A few days later, I failed again, this time in tears. Coach then placed his gigantic arm around me, and said something like, “You need to climb this pegboard; let’s together find a way.”

From our July/August 2010 issue.

Within minutes, I figured it out, and then looked like Spiderman swinging from tall buildings. I would thrust my entire arm over and around one peg, then, hanging from the underside of my elbow, I moved the other peg with my free hand. At the end, Coach lifted me from the mat—embraced me—and said, “I am so proud of you. You’ve done well. See that rope over there hanging from the ceiling—you have seven days to climb it.”

It was a rich season of learning for me, and I often reflect on it. Today, I also see how closely it parallels our spiritual journeys as followers of Christ. If we will allow God to do so, He is apt at coaxing us over, through and around barriers toward prospective, greater spiritual growth. In Philippians 4:13, the apostle Paul—one well acquainted with personal challenge—writes, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

He knew that life is littered with physical, mental, social and spiritual challenges ripe for helping us to become more conformed to Jesus. With each, we have a choice to make: Will we shrink back in self-pity, frustration or fear? Or will we ask for God’s help and draw upon His perspective, strength and power to overcome?

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