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I’m sure you’ve noticed. We are lost. The pandemic, inflation, war, shootings … Institutions and processes that have long offered a sense of stability to our world are falling apart. NO ONE knows what to do.

I had to laugh at a recent TV network report. “President Biden has finally admitted that he has no immediate solution to gas price increases.” Who does? But it’s not THAT funny. Not knowing our way makes us feel vulnerable, anxious, sad, and confused.

When I read my daily devotional (Jesus Calling) a couple of days ago it asserted that PROBLEMS ARE A LADDER. Climb it, the writer charged me, and see from God’s perspective.

Suppose this is true. One of our forbearers of faith, Moses, was leading God’s people into the desert on a journey that unexpectedly dragged on for 40 years. This was big. Their whole life was gone. Where were they to go? What were they to do?

Out in the midst of vast physical and spiritual deserts, charged with leading a multitude, Moses climbed the highest mountain hoping to meet personally with the Holy One. He needed help!

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When I was 22 I had the immense privilege to climb Jebel Musa out on the Sinai peninsula. Over the ages monks living at the foot of Moses’ mountain had constructed stone steps – so I had a huge advantage over Moses when he climbed the rock mountain. But I still faced a challenge.

I began climbing soon after sunrise. It took me more than four hours in the blazing sun to climb step after step, to the height of 7,500 feet. God grew thistles and tiny flowers to decorate the path, which was also marked by signs of human presence: toilet paper. Where to focus? TP? Tender flowers? Or mighty mountains?

Finally I reached the top and surveyed the world. The experience left me speechless. The aching knees, sore feet, screaming muscles all faded away as I, like Moses centuries earlier, observed glorious red and pink granite mountains and mysterious, shadowy valleys stretching as far as my eye could see. My knees wobbled a little, partly from my fear of heights, but even more because the world I saw was ferocious and the challenges endless. There was no super-highway through the Red Sea like Moses encountered earlier.

I also sensed a closeness to LIFE, to the great Force that created this fierce wonder, to One who enfolded me as She did when Moses sought God there long ago. I felt very small, and yet encircled by Presence. And our world looked radically different from when I had wandered through the desert valleys.

Problems can be a ladder. Climb up and see … from God’s perspective. Could that be true for us today?

Marsh Hudson-Knapp is still learning climb the ladder of problems, and finds wisdom and support from fellow travelers at Second Congregational Church. You can reach him at MRHudsonknapp@gmail.com.


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