black bamboo ladder during daytime
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Remember that old superstition that you should never walk under a ladder? Like black cats and cracks on the sidewalk, ladders were never meant to be crossed under, as if wise tale belief somehow placed power on a sedentary concrete object. But what about climbing those broken ladders?

In life, broken ladders are the things we chase after, attempting to fill that God-shaped hole inside that only God can fill. But here’s the catch: They can even be Godly things and creations without seeking the Creator Himself. Lately, I’ve been thinking about my relationship with God a lot. I am not ashamed to say that as my intimacy with Him grows, the more facets I find running in my life that needs work. I am not embarrassed to tell you that the more I learn to love God, the more questions I have, and the less I understand, but oh, how the more I long to know Him.

There are days that I feel super close to God like He is my best friend, and I am His, but there are also days where I feel like Job, wondering what I did wrong, and where God is. There are days I run to my Heavenly Father because I know He hears me when I call, but there are also days I am fearful, allowing my broken relationship with my earthly Father to taint and distort the view of my Heavenly one. 

With my heart, soul, and mind, I know and believe He can rescue and deliver me, but when feelings get in the way, my vision blurs, or my hands grow shaky. I take a look at the world around me, and try to prove myself to God. It’s as if in those moments, I believe I must climb to help the situation. I begin to believe, that if I don’t start to rise myself up, I’ll be left, weary, broken and defeated on the cold hard floor. And so, like many people, I have often fallen to climbing broken ladders.

Because the reality is, broken ladders look like freedom, but really only bring imprisonment. Broken ladders encourage actions and legalistic regulations, promising security and hope, but really only bring condemnation and hopelessness. Broken ladders see grace as something we have to prove, leaving us shattered in the frailty of human imperfection. Broken ladders ignore when Jesus said “done,” and tell us we still have to “do.”But when Jesus Christ hung on a cross for our sins, He cried “It is finished,” and meant it. For He died a death to pay the penalty for our sins because we never could. 

There is nothing we could ever do, not enough good works, not enough pages of Bible reading or fulfilling the hundreds of Laws that could make us right with God, and that is the beauty of grace. Jesus knew we couldn’t climb holy ladders to Heaven, yet we still try to scale broken ones. 

In Selah’s hit song, Broken Ladders, the band writes, “You never asked me to be king, build my tower up to the sky, so why do I try? You never asked me to be rich, buy the things that gold can buy, so why do I try? All you ever wanted was my heart, my heart, my simple heart, to you that’s all that really matters. Why do I feel I have to reach, believe I have to rise when you never said I had to climb these broken ladders.”And in life, I think you might relate to seeking these broken ladders. Placing ourselves on the throne when the King of Kings already possesses that placement. Seeking riches and wealth, as if those worldly things will bring us eternal pleasure.

Attempting to find satisfaction in ourselves, when only God can truly satisfy. Trying to fight our battles on two feet, when the reality is that we need to take a knee
For while standing alone, seeking good, serving others, and climbing broken ladders might look like religion, Jesus didn’t call us to legalism, but Himself. And while reading your Bible, going to church, volunteering, and completing holy deeds are faith combined works, they are worth virtually nothing if we aren’t doing them because of our relationship with the author of life Himself. We do good in this world, not for the approval of God or to prove our worth to Him, but to show Him that we love Him. But when we seek broken ladders as a means to reach Him, we’ve forgotten the truth of the Gospel message:  

“Cause all they do is take my eyes off of you, make me forget the truth. All you ever wanted was my heart, my heart, my simple heart. To you, that’s all that really matters. Why do I feel I have to reach, believe I have to rise when you never said I had to climb. Oh, you never said I had to climb these broken ladders.”

Today, I wonder how many of us are still climbing broken ladders to get to Jesus when all He ever wanted was our heart. He isn’t sitting with a clipboard, waiting to check off your daily Bible reading like a checklist, and He won’t be at the gates of Heaven reading every journal entry to make sure you wrote down notes every time you read your Bible. Christ won’t be looking at the number of events you hosted or the number of times you went to Church on Sunday. Jesus isn’t looking for perfect people who never mess up, and He certainly isn’t expecting you to prove your worth to Him. 

Do you believe He would have died for you if He didn’t think you were worth it? 

Because while all of those things can be good, holy, and productive matters and reflections of our faith, they will mean nothing without the heart and intention behind them. Jesus wants us to read our Bibles, take notes, learn, grow, reflect, go to Church, and volunteer. He even wants us to obey His commandments, love others, and strive for holiness as Jesus did. But God is not a Pharisee, and His way of life is not rooted in ritualistic legalism. God is God, the Great I AM, who offers freedom, joy, and life to the full (John 10:10). 

In Psalm 139:23-24 of the New Living Translation, David encourages us to present our hearts before the Lord as a holy and pleasing sacrifice to Him. Through full surrender, we ask God to test and examine our motives, the thoughts behind our intentions, and decisions. By humbling ourselves before the holiest of Kings, Christ is able to purify and convict our hearts. And no matter the number of broken ladders we have attempted to climb, He is faithful to remove them and replace them with His love and grace. 

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life” (Psalm 139:23-24 NLT).

Agape, Amber