I have been helping Bob install some sound equipment. He could have done a lot of the work without me – apart from one thing. he was working at height, and needed me to ‘foot the ladder’
That means standing at the bottom, and ensuring the ladder does not slip away from the wall. Like theses guys…
According to the Health And Safety Executive, in the UK there are 14 fatal accidents a year involving ladders, and more than 100 accidents every month involving serious injury. So it is important that Bob doesn’t do this work on his own, unaided.
Now I have to admit, it is not a terribly exciting part of the work. You just stand there, holding the ‘stiles’ [side rails] Occasionally you may get a face full of dust from the drilling [I suppose I probably ought to wear a mask, helmet and safety goggles]
But is important to be there. As the HSE state in their [copious] literature on the subject of ‘Ladder Use’
…the second person should foot the ladder until the user has returned to the bottom. Serious accidents have occurred because the person responsible for footing a ladder has wandered off to do other work.
So why am I choosing this topic for my “Pause In Lent”? Well it occurred to me yesterday as I stood there, that “Footing the Ladder” has all sorts of spiritual parallels.
I thought about reasons why someone might climb a ladder
- to rescue someone [fireman, screaming girl, burning building]
- to mend something [Glen Campbell, Wichita Lineman]
- to clean something [windows!]
- to fix up loudspeakers [Bob and the sound system]
- to stick up an advert [cue jokes about bill posters !]
- to pick fruit
And I realised that in the Kingdom of God, people are forever doing these things
- rescuing people from the mess into which they have got themselves
- repairing broken lines of communication
- making it possible for people to see things more clearly and helping them feel clean, and forgiven
- helping people to hear God’s voice more clearly
- proclaiming the Gospel
- helping to bring people to Jesus, so they can bear fruit for Him
And as people are doing those things, they are making themselves vulnerable, and putting themselves at risk. They need someone to ‘foot the ladder’ for them. That’s often us…
- praying for them
- saying words of encouragement
- offering practical/financial support
- being there to welcome and love the people who are being rescued, and brought into the fellowship of the Church.
…and we can’t get bored and wander off to do another job – if God calls us to support our brothers and sisters, then that is what we should do.
Often the fireman who carried the girl down, the man who installed the loudspeaker, the guy who fixed the phone line, will be praised for their work – and the bloke at the bottom gets forgotten – but that is the way it is. The person who is up the ladder is depending on the one on the ground, and he is grateful for their presence, because he knows he could not do his job without them.
So too in the Christian life, if we are doing a difficult task, we are truly grateful for the support of others. And God does not forget either.
The HSE insist that actually, ‘footing the ladder’ is a last resort. A workman should try and ensure his ladder is fixed at the top, and/or securely anchored on the ground. Well, yes, a Christian needs to be sure that God is holding on to him, and that his work is anchored in faith. But the knowledge that he is not working alone can make all the difference.
I am doing quite a lot of Lay Preaching lately – and it means so much to me that when I go out to a little village chapel somewhere on a Sunday morning, I know my friends at KMFC are praying for me, and ‘footing the ladder’
Who foots the ladder for you?
And for whom do you ‘foot the ladder’?