“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14)
Free will is such a wonderful blessing our gracious God has blessed each of us with and that blessing requires that we act responsibly with it. Sometimes we are better at that than at other times. Sometimes, rather than stepping up and heading for higher ground, some turn the other way, toward “the lights of the far country,” and like it there!
I was giving some thought this past week to an old hymn that not only brought back fond memories from my childhood but brought up thoughts about the direction each of us should be headed in our lives.
The more I thought about it, the more it became clear that I needed to share some thoughts prompted by this old hymn that was written back in 1898, by Johnson Oatman, Jr. And since many of the old hymns seem to be too old for folks to be singing in the 21st Century, I decided to just include the words of this beautiful hymn.
The song is entitled “Higher Ground.”
I’m pressing on the upward way,
New heights I’m gaining every day;
Still praying as I’m onward bound,
“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”
Lord, lift me up, and let me stand
By faith, on heaven’s tableland;
A higher plane than I have found,
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.
My heart has no desire to stay
Where doubts arise and fears dismay;
Though some may dwell where these abound,
My prayer, my aim, is higher ground. [Refrain]
I want to live above the world,
Though Satan’s darts at me are hurled;
For faith has caught a joyful sound,
The song of saints on higher ground. [Refrain]
I want to scale the utmost height,
And catch a gleam of glory bright;
But still I’ll pray till heav’n I’ve found,
“Lord, lead me on to higher ground.” [Refrain]
The apostle Paul was telling this group of Christians that he loved so dearly that there was room for more growth, service, and greater efforts to share the message of the gospel with others in hopes they would accept the truths about Him who said of Himself, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)
It was Paul’s chief aim and purpose in life to pursue at the highest level of intensity … to bear down with no holds barred … to gain the goal of being with Christ!
That, my friends, and brethren is what Heading for Higher Ground is all about! Heaven was the only goal where Christ was with the Father … the only goal he kept his eyes, heart, and very life focused on!
When it comes to ‘pressing on the upward way’ … do we have some room for improvement? Are we truly gaining new heights every day? I cannot and would not even try to speak for you, but I can most certainly speak for myself. Absolutely … enough room to be striving and stretching with all of the spiritual strength I can obtain from God and His Word and through prayer … for the rest of my life!
Lord, please help us to plant our feet on higher ground and keep climbing in faith and service to You!
“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit, for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
Bill Fairchild, Jr.