After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne. Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.
- Revelation 4:1-6
“A higher state of mind and spiritual vision can only be achieved through the higher practice of personal character. If you live up to the highest and best that you know in the outer level of your life, God will continually say to you, “Friend, come up even higher.” There is also a continuing rule in temptation which calls you to go higher; but when you do, you only encounter other temptations and character traits. Both God and Satan use the strategy of elevation, but Satan uses it in temptation, and the effect is quite different. When the devil elevates you to a certain place, he causes you to fasten your idea of what holiness is far beyond what flesh and blood could ever bear or achieve. Your life becomes a spiritual acrobatic performance high atop a steeple. You cling to it, trying to maintain your balance and daring not to move. But when God elevates you by His grace into heavenly places, you find a vast plateau where you can move about with ease.”
- Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest
First off, the title is “going higher” not “getting higher.” I do not do the getting high at all.
The Apostle John had to get to a higher plain in order to see the things of Heaven. This does not mean a physical height, but he had to elevate himself above the brokenness of this broken world that we live in. There had to be a spiritual separation, and in his narrative, he described that as a higher elevation.
When we consider becoming more like Christ, we are trying to achieve a higher plain. Often this is compared to climbing a mountain. The first time I remember hearing the mountain analogy in a sermon, I was in high school. I was so encouraged to climb that mountain. Then the pastor talked of interviewing a mountain climber. He asked what the mountain climber saw when he got to the peak of the mountain. The climber replied, “The next mountain.”
I was still encouraged during that sermon, but not anymore. The pastor was not talking about growing in the faith as the sermon talked about overcoming the challenges of life. Yes, growth becomes part of that process, but… I have enough challenges to deal with. Conquering one challenge, even with God doing the heavy lifting, is exhausting. I do not see the benefit of replacing that challenge with a second challenge, when I have 10-20 challenges in the fire now. I promise. I will not celebrate that one challenge victory, because going from 10-20 challenges to 9-19 challenges is like the basketball team that is 50 points behind and then one of their players makes a long three-point shot and starts pounding his fist against his chest. Great, fellow! Now get 17 turnovers in a row and make 17 consecutive long three-point shots and you may have accomplished something, if there is enough time left on the clock. I still have 9-19 challenges left. No time to celebrate, and no time to look for the next mountain to climb until I have climbed all the ones I already have.
And thinking of that clock winding down to zero, I do not think that I am there, but I think I have enough on my plate that I could have one of those “why haven’t we heard from him, lately?” type moments.
I do not need to go further, doing more. I do not need to exceed last year’s totals of whatever you are measuring.
I need to go higher.
Oswald Chamber’s book is called My Utmost for His Highest. I have yet to achieve “utmost” because Jesus’ Highest is still not close enough for me to grasp, or as the old fellow says, “Shake a stick at.”
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.