The purpose of rock climbing is to experience the top. It is not merely to get to the top--a short ride in a helicopter could deliver a person to the peak--but, through experience, to become the type of climber capable of reaching the peak. The victory comes with the successful execution of the process.
Rock climbing is meaningful only because gravity exists. Repeat. If it were not for gravity, rock climbing would be pointless. And the only way to truly learn how to rock climb is to climb rocks. And making mistakes while rock climbing is inevitable---that’s why one wears a safety harness and hooks into ropes. And rock climbing is totally worth it because the view from the top, achieved through experience, is exquisite.
In our pre-Earth lives, we were fledgling rock climbers and God, our Heavenly Father, was at the top of the figurative mountain, enjoying the exquisite view. Like all good fathers, He wanted to share with us His joy. And, being a wise father, He knew we had to experience the journey to enjoy the view. As fledgling rock climbers we’d had pre-rock climbing lessons and conditioning and had progressed as far as we could without climbing the actual cliff. It was time to scale the cliff. To do that, we had to come to Earth and experience mortality.
Just as rock climbing is meaningless without gravity, mortality is meaningless without the possibility of failure. The Fall, that is leaving God’s presence and becoming carnal and sensual, made failure possible and made mortality meaningful.
Mortality is meaningful because we can fail. We can fail because we have choices and because it is possible to make bad choices. Without the ability to make bad choices, mortality would be meaningless just as rock climbing would be pointless without gravity. .
The ability to choose is critical to progress in life just as it is in rock climbing. Without choice progress is not possible. And choice is not possible without appealing options from which to choose. For example, if I hate sweets, doughnuts do not tempt me therefore resisting them does not develop my character. There must be a hook for the choices to be valid. Being carnal and sensual is the hook we mortals have that make our choices valid and that give us the experience we need to progress. If we did not have carnal, sensual appetites, we could not learn to control them. If we were not tempted to be selfish, we could never learn to truly love. Just as gravity is necessary to make rock climbing meaningful, having worldly appetites and passions make our choices meaningful. And, in both cases, making good choices leads to success.
Let’s review the analogy and take it a few steps further……
Gravity makes rock climbing meaningful The only way to learn to climb rocks is to climb them. Mistakes are inevitable while rock climbing and, because of gravity, mistakes can be fatal. However, mistakes do not have to be fatal because rock climbers have safety ropes.
Opposition and carnality make mortality meaningful. The only way to get to where God is, is to go through mortality. Mistakes are inevitable while in mortality and, because God honors our choices, mortal mistakes can be eternally fatal However mistakes made in mortality are not necessarily fatal because of Christ’s atonement. He is our safety net.
Just as in rock climbing people make stupid decisions, so do we in mortality. Just as in rock climbing, ropes protect climbers--if they choose to use them--so do covenants and commandments protect us--if we choose to use them. In rock climbing, not using ropes can have serious, permanent consequences. In life, mistakes can have serious and permanent consequences if we choose to ignore Christ. His commandments and covenants are our safety net. If we fall, He will catch us--if we let Him. His atonement intervenes with gravity, so to speak. He does not eliminate gravity--it certainly still exists--but He comes between us and gravity, protecting us from its consequences.
Replace the word “gravity” with the word “justice”. Christ steps between us and justice--that is He extends mercy--when we turn to Him, when we accept His safety net. What does accepting His safety net look like? Repentance, faith and trust, baptism, enduring to the end in following Him.
Christ is able to be our safety net because He paid the price for our sins and mistakes. And, as an extra bonus, He also experienced all the yuckiness associated with our “climb”---sickness, fatigue, discouragement, despair, betrayal, loneliness--so He knows perfectly, and empathetically, how to comfort and support us in our quest.
And it is the quest that makes the whole thing meaningful, in climbing and in life. We are on a quest to become like our Father in Heaven. He is on the top of the cliff and He wants us to join Him. He loves us completely and thoroughly as only a God can. And, because He loves us so all-encompassingly, He wants us to have all that He has, to be able to do all that He does, to see and experience all that He experiences. And, He knows that in order to do all that, to have all that, to BE all that, we must learn to climb the cliff.
The quest is get to the top of the cliff. It is gravity that makes the quest meaningful. And it is the ropes that make the quest possible.
The quest is to be like God. It is justice that makes the quest meaningful. And it is Christ that makes the quest possible.