During the summer of 2004, I spent a lot of time rock climbing in the Western United States. Among many memorable climbs, one stands out in that it taught me a principle about life with broad reaching impact. The scene was an 85 ft. climb in northern Utah. The limestone route was slightly overhanging and relatively sustained in its difficulty. I stepped onto the rock and more-or-less cruised the first 70 ft. of the climb. I was ecstatic. I was on my way to “flashing” the climb as climbers call it – climbing it perfectly, without falling, all the way to the top, the first time I tried it. With only 15 feet left (and plenty of forearm strength remaining) I had my eyes on the prize – the top of the route – and the top of my world would I be successful from here on out. Just then I fell.
So, I re-established myself on the rock, knowing that I had lost my opportunity to “flash” the route, but continued to the top with relative ease and asked my belayer to lower me to the ground. I was going to rest and in 30 minutes or so try to climb the whole thing again – this time without any falls.
Getting back on the rock, I experienced a great surprise, I fell this time at about 65 feet – at a spot that I climbed successfully not more than an hour before. I was fuming with myself. I quickly got back on the rock and began to climb. I fell at the same spot again. And then again. And then again. And each time I fell, I actually traveled about 25 feet through the air before the rope caught me – based on where the carabiners were placed on this route. Finally, I successfully navigated this perplexing section after about TEN attempts! I was dumbfounded. How had I managed to climb those moves successfully the first time and then spent 10 times falling on them before getting them again?!?
Having worked through those difficulties, I moved on to the rest of the route, finished it up, and lowered back down to the ground again. Some time later, I climbed the whole route again – and this time all the way through, from top to bottom, and without falling. What a challenging experience. But it was worth it. Here’s why:
That climb taught me a principle. It taught me that sometimes we think we know something because we have experienced it once (and have maybe even been successful in our first experience of it), yet upon further attempts we find that we in fact were not as expert with that something as we thought. This is the nature of learning.
Pastor Brad recently said “learning without redundancy is in fact not learning.” So true.
Studies show this too. Most people cannot repeat much (if any) of a Sunday sermon on Tuesday! Don’t fall into that trap of lost learning! Focused work is the key to proper learning. We want our understanding of God to move into operation. Revelation is meant to turn into participation. A simple and temporary success can turn into an understanding so deeply rooted in our hearts and minds that no circumstance can shake it from us . . . and repetition is what turns the temporary into the permanent.
Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it. (Prov. 13:11)
Slow builds have longevity. What do you care enough about to work at it? Repetition produces results!
~ Hear more about the power of repetition from Brad Ettore by listening to the beginning (the first 7 minutes) of the sermon, The Good The Bad and The Ugly: Understanding Works, Grace, and Reward, from Agathos Church. Columbus, Ohio