No Second-hand Ladders for Aspiring Saints.
Frank M. Juelich
A man, in his dream, came to a dark tall tower. As he entered haltingly he saw a staircase leading upwards. Hesitatingly, driven by curiosity, he started to climb, What will I find higher up? Suddenly he looked back and saw to his utter dismay that the steps he had climbed had fallen away . . .

Over the years people have frequently compared my humble efforts and me with George Mueller and his efforts -- a century ago. The only thing we two have in common is that we looked/look after kids and that we take in kids irrespective of funds at hand or promised. The differences are however many. The major one is that George Mueller is dead and Frank Juelich, at least at the time of writing this article, is still alive. George was a devout man; Frank, still being alive, could hardly be considered thus. Frank and the generation that knows him have to be dead before his canonization could possibly be considered. George Mueller had faith, Frank Juelich is off his rocker - at least till he is dead. George had a family but no computer; Frank has no family but a computer. The expenses must be almost the same . . . Furthermore, George trusted God for money before he spent it; Frank trusts God for money after he spent it. George agonized before he got a building and Frank agonizes after he got a building - how to pay the creditors . . .

I have no aspiration to be another George Mueller, but I do have aspirations to help as many kids as my courage permits me to help.  I have no aspiration to be another Abraham or another Moses or another David, but I do have aspirations to be a Friend of God, I do have aspiration to see God face to face and I do have aspiration to be called a Man after God's own heart - by God. But to reach my goal I can not travel Abraham's road, nor climb, like Moses, Mount Sinai, or like David build altars and an empire; I must construct my own means of ascend -- my own ladder to reach their heights. The ladder a saint used to grow closer to God is - thrown away. As each rung is climbed the one below - falls away. It has become useless. The ladder has no purpose apart from getting us closer to God. After its purpose is fulfilled it is thrown away. There are no second-hand ladders available for aspiring saints.

Of course the people of God have a common mindset and so Abraham's walk up

Mount Moriah

is reflected in David's: "I shall not offer unto the Lord my God of that which costs me nothing." Moses', "I can not speak!"  is reflected in Jeremiah's, "I am but a child". Paul's longing for the salvation of the Jews reflects that of the longings for them by Moses and the prophets.  And the 11th chapter of Hebrews is reflected in the lives of a multitude of unknown, unsung saints.  Each one, uncaring of the means of ascend of the other, painstakingly constructed their own ladder to reach the heights that others attained -- not to compete - but to come closer to God, to have more of him.

The rungs of the ladder are constructed out of the traumatic experiences while walking through the Valley of the Shadow of Death; while walking through the floods that threaten to overwhelm; while walking through the fire - that threatens to devour. During the past rainy season things got so bad that I asked God if he was not overdoing things a bit. One kid died. Our only way into the city was gone and under six feet of water. We had neither food nor money. No, God was not overdoing things; he just helped me to climb up a rung or two . . The rungs are also the product of precious moments with God where His voice tells us that He loves us; that He is our friend and - that in the end - we will win. In essence, these rungs are constructed by a unique, unique to each individual, relationship with his Lord. Yet, while sometimes the progress upwards is slow, they are not resting places but a means to ascend higher and higher - discarded after use.

As a result, there are no second-hand ladders available for the copycat saints. Sure, copy-cats can produce great paintings or books; reverse engineering can produce software programs and electronic gadgets; given some more time, scientist can even make a better looking human being, but -- it can not produce saints. As each of us is unique so is our relationship with God unique: in our own way we love him, in our own  way we converse with him,  in our own way we bemoan our failings before him, in our own way we enjoy his presence and in our own way we humble ourselves beneath his all powerful and wise will.

I love the Saints, I even admire some saints but, I do not believe that anybody else, including Abraham, Moses, David and Paul, had/has something of real value that is beyond me to have - for a price . . .

Of course, if success and accomplishments are the goals of our life then to observe and copy the life and action of another saint is valid. If the way you hold your Bible is not spiritual enough for you - copy Billy Graham

but -- it won't be YOU who is holding it..

If your taste in clothes is not dignified enough for you - copy a famous TV evangelist

but -- it won't be YOU who is wearing them.

If you feel your mannerism isn't dynamic enough - copy whom-ever you feel has an edge over you. The world is full of actors you can choose from

but -- it won't be YOU who displays them.

But the name of the game is not success or accomplishments but relationship, my personal relationship with Christ, and that - cannot be copied. Surely there is no need to envy a person's closeness to God - it is available to anybody. Neither is there a need to envy his faith - it is there for the taking. Nor is there a need to envy his maturity - it is within reach of all of us. And if we fail . . . May be we cannot see God because we try to see him through our neighbors eyes. May be we cannot hear God because we try to hear him through our neighbor's ears. May be we cannot understand God because we try to apprehend him through our neighbor's heart.

So, let each one of us construct his own ladder unmindful of the materials used and shape of construction of the ladders of other saints. Let us climb at our rate not wondering about the slower one beneath nor the faster one above.

For those who still do not believe me, continue your search for second-hand ladders. Who knows, you might find one.  But be assured, though heights you may reach, they are not where the presence of God dwells.