March 27, 2016

Come up higher

Near the end of his life, the Apostle John was exiled to Patmos. There God gave him a mind-boggling revelation of Jesus Christ. He writes of it, beginning with God’s instructions concerning seven churches. Then God calls this man to something amazing . . .

After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had 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 behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. (Revelation 4:1–2)

The book of Revelation is an interpretation puzzle, but instead of trying to explain what was going on in the rest of Revelation, Chambers offers an application to spiritual life. He discusses how God reveals truth to His people by calling us to ‘come up higher.’

I’ve been frustrated by people who, no matter how well I did, continually lifted the standard. I could never satisfy them. Yet God does the same thing; His standard continually jumps above where I am, but with one difference. While I was still a sinner, He loved and accepted me. Then, as I make effort to live up to what I know of Him, He continually says — ‘Friend, come up here, come up higher.’

Chambers points out that the devil uses a similar strategy by also bidding me to elevate myself, but there is a difference from his tactics and God’s plan. The devil wants me to try harder, to work at improving myself, and to do whatever I do for personal goals and self glory. He encourages a “spiritual acrobatic performance” in which I take center stage and the Lord is left out of things.

When God calls me higher, He is drawing me closer to Himself. In that great Light of who He is, I see myself and my sin more clearly, but I also am given a greater glimpse of His amazing grace. He shows me that I am loved unconditionally, that I do not have to ‘perform’ only be who I am without pressure or pride.

God says, “Come up here” and expects obedience, yet growth in grace is not my doing. He just wants me in that higher place where He can give insight into my identity in Christ, and to what He is doing in my life so I will more deeply resemble His Son.

Do very many people think about the events of life as part of their education about God or themselves? Some ask ‘why’ yet do many delve farther into the truth? Do many hear the Lord bidding them to “Come up here and I will show you?”

I can only speak of my own deafness and resistance, but also have finally understood that life is not just about living with a fatalistic notion that trials or comforts happen to everyone without any reason for them. God is sovereign and all that happens to me has a purpose attached. Life is not random. God is in the details and He wants me to ‘come up higher’ and see more of those details with Him.

Too much reflection on my spiritual condition can become self-centered naval-gazing, yet I don’t want to sail merrily along without knowing the value of life’s experiences. I want to hear the voice of God and understand His purpose for as much as He will show me. I want to become more like Jesus, to answer His call to a more elevated life. That means paying attention. Is He going to hide from me what He is doing and leave me where I am? Or am I hearing and following His call to come up higher?

No comments: