March 11, 2020

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:23-25

I’m a tree climber. When I was a child, my favorite tree stood on the edge of my grandmother’s front yard. It was a majestic oak with solid branches, and I spent hours exploring it with my sisters and cousins. The more inexperienced climbers among us enjoyed crawling around the lower branches, while the ones who had been at it for longer went higher and higher. This tree met us all where we were and stood solid as we each grew to trust it more. I can still hear our younger voices. “How did you get all the way up there?” “Put your foot here and here.” “You can do it!”

In college, my joy of climbing continued, and I spent one summer as a camp counselor teaching young campers to navigate the branches and challenges of an elevated adventure course. In the beginning,

some of the girls were afraid, and it was fortunate that there were many different parts of the course. As girls would experience something wonderful about the first level, they would be inspired to climb a little higher. Throughout the process, the counselors served as mentors, and the other campers served as cheerleaders. It was so fun to watch them grow in confidence and experience the same joy that I felt in climbing.

A few years ago, I participated in a Bible study called Open Your Bible by Raechel Myers and Amanda Bible Williams. The authors compared the sturdy climbing tree to the Word of God. This really spoke to my tree climbing spirit!

The Word of God, like the tree, has proven itself trustworthy for climbing up and down and all around. I’m not alone in this tree and neither are you. Not only is the climbing Guide there with us (you guessed it—the Holy Spirit), there are other climbers in the tree. Lots of them! Some climbers are higher up than me, some are in the lower branches…..There is a sense of community under the canopy of leaves that gives me confidence to reach up to another climber for help when I can’t do it on my own. And when I see someone below me struggling to make sense of the branches, I get to reach down to help them, pointing out footholds they can’t see from where they stand—just like someone did for me when I was there. This community of climbers rejoices to see people get their first “boost” onto the lowest branches of the tree, and we celebrate all the more watching friends taking tentative steps toward the tree for the first time.

Like the big oak in my grandmother’s yard, the Bible has as much to offer friends new to its truths as it does to seasoned scholars, and we all grow as we explore it together. This community of faith is such a gift to all of us. Thanks be to God!

Heavenly Father, we thank you that you have brought us together, and we thank you for loving every single one of us more than we can ever fully comprehend. We thank you also that you meet us where we are. Help us to extend that same grace to one another. Guide us deeper into Your Word as we learn and grow both individually and as a church family. Strengthen our faith in all of Your unchanging, loving promises. Amen

Donna Pulliam

About the Contributor:
Donna Pulliam enjoys serving as an elder on the youth committee at First Presbyterian Church. She is currently enjoying climbing through the Old Testament with her Thursday morning study group.