Did you know that 300 people in America die each year from climbing ladders? And far more people die spiritually from climbing ladders — the corporate ladder, or ladders of money, taking charge over others, or elevating ourselves to impress people.

Climbing the ladder kills the spirit because it’s a way of not trusting God with our welfare and the outcomes of situations. Climbing the ladder is a way of trying to “make things happen” or “get ahead.” We may be under pressure to climb or feel discouraged that we can’t get up — both are deadly temptations to base our worth on our own performance rather than God’s grace.

Resting at the Base of the Ladder

“Don’t climb the ladder. Rest at the base of it.” That’s what I sensed the Lord speak to my heart on a recent morning as I laid in bed praying. I was disciplining myself with the Word, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). It takes discipline for me to lay in bed and not get up to start a day of activity! It’s about submitting my day to the Lord, Abandoning Outcomes to him. It’s about being Unhurried in God’s presence.

As I lingered in bed praying, Jacob’s ladder had come into my mind because the night before I had read in the Bible about angels ascending and descending on Jacob’s ladder (Genesis 28:10-22). The angels were going up and down the spiritual ladder for Jacob. Did you know that they also do this for you and I?! Continually angels are rising up to the heavens and coming back to earth to minister God’s grace to us and put his thoughts into our minds (Hebrews 1:14).

In fact, Jesus himself is heaven’s ladder! Remember he said to Nathaniel and Philip: “You will see heaven open and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man” (John 1:51, NIV).

The Spirit of Jesus and angels are visiting you and I right now! What a wonderful realization! If only we’d stop climbing the ladder — or stop feeling guilty or worried because we’re not climbing it well — and instead rest at the base of it, looking to the Lord.

Ladder Training

It takes practice to learn how to participate in the ministry of heaven’s ladder. We need to train ourselves to, “Make every effort to enter God’s rest” (Hebrews 4:11, paraphrase). Lingering in bed to pray is one simple way to practice refusing to climb the ladder. (See our article, “First Thoughts of the Morning.”)

What do do while you linger in bed? Meditate on Scripture and let that lead you to pray. It helps if you’ve memorized a Scripture and then you can easily take the time to marinate in it, letting the words abide in you so that you abide in Christ. This probably is the most important spiritual discipline for learning to be still in God’s presence, listen to him, and rely on his Spirit.

You might want to try our Scripture meditation on John 1:43-51, “Living Where Angels Ascend and Descend.” (We have many free Lectio Divina Guides like this that are great for small groups!)

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