Nowhere to go but up
Make Your Life Mirror – Nowhere to go but up
I am not a morning person. Waking up at four in the morning is a small miracle. First, it is eerily dark. Secondly, there is nothing to do, unless you are one of the countless commuters in my area who drive the I-95 corridor at that unfortunate hour. Nonetheless, while in Phoenix, Arizona for a women’s conference, I was highly motivated to rise before dawn. The night before, I had spotted a brochure in the hotel lobby advertising a glorious way to experience the Sonoran Desert. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to do something I had been thinking about for twenty years. With the lure of freshly brewed coffee and my best efforts, I managed to persuade my dear friend Tracy to join me. Throwing caution and common sense to the wind, we ventured out, a la Thelma and Louise, to enjoy an exhilarating ride aboard a hot air balloon.
We arrived at the launch site to find our brightly colored balloon stretched out over the desert floor. After giving us a few safety tips, our guides began inflating it using large tanks filled with propane. I have to admit, it was at this moment I wondered if a thin sheet of nylon, shooting flames of fire, and a small wicker basket was a wise combination, especially considering it was about to be my mode of transportation.
“You only live once,” I thought to myself.
I awkwardly threw my leg over the rim and climbed in. We lifted off and took flight, propelled only by fire and wind. Within moments, golden and auburn hues filled the Arizona sky as the sun majestically broke over the mountain ridge. It had been a long time since I had watched a sunrise. Too long. Loosely directed by our fearless pilot, we began steadily ascending to 1200 feet until we were soaring in the open air.
Everything looked different. I felt different. I became acutely aware of the silence and serenity missing back on the ground. Flying high above cactus and circumstances, I received the gift of a transformed perspective.
Last Saturday I had the privilege of teaching “The Theology of Worship” to ordination candidates at the A/G Potomac School of Ministry. While re-reading the text, “The Reward of Worship” by Jack Hayford, I was reminded of my perspective-altering hot air balloon ride. What, you might ask, do “The Theology of Worship” and a hot air balloon ride have in common? Three little words: “Come up higher”. Revelation 4 & 5 serve as the foundation for this masterful discussion of worship. In Revelation 4, we find John – Jesus’ beloved disciple and the author of Revelation – in a state of incarceration, exiled and confined on the island of Patmos. He literally has nowhere to go but up.
In an island of desperation, Jesus extends an invitation: Come up higher.
The mirror of God’s Word invites us to receive the fresh outlook of His perspective. Revelation 4 asks us to receive this gift by walking through the open door of worship. (If you have a moment, please read it now.) I’d like to share some of Chapter 3 to encourage you this week. Consider it a hot air balloon ride for your heart. 🙂
“John is being summoned beyond the limits of where he is. For us to come in the spirit of worship and seek the face of the Lord is a response to the same invitation. The door of opportunity for John to make any difference in the church has been slammed shut by Rome. He is probably eighty years of age by this time and could easily be thinking, “I’ll never make it out of here”. Here is a picture of every one of us at some time or another, finding ourselves at a point of despair, wondering whether or not we will ever move beyond what restricts us, feeling that God could not possibly be pleased with us as His servants. For John, the limits were the boundaries of an island. For us, it may be an island of circumstance, or perhaps distance and isolation in a marriage. Suddenly, the voice calls to John: “Come up here…” It summons him beyond those restrictive, limiting – even imprisoning – circumstances through an open door to God’s throne room where John is about to see Jesus in a way He has never seen Him before. He is about to have a revelation of Jesus’ ultimate triumph beyond everything else.
Three things take place as John steps through the open door:
- He sees a throne. He is speaking about the Most High God. He is saying that he has been brought to a reminder that everything he deals with – as problematic as it may be – is trivial by comparison with the grandeur and the glory of that throne. God is greater.
- John sees those that are worshiping around the throne. They are worshiping the One who is able to take nothing and bring about anything you need. You never need believe that you have reached the dead-end for hope. Step through the open door. It is here, worshiping at the throne of God where He is able to refill us with His Spirit, renew us with His hope, reassure us with His love and revive the dreams and desires He has given us from disappointment and despair.
There is a reason for that rainbow around the throne. The rainbow is not just pretty; it is the reminder of a promise that extends beyond everything that looks as though it is ruined and will never be restored. John is reassured that despite the circumstances of exile and imprisonment he is enduring on earth, there is never a hopeless situation with God. This is a picture of God’s open-door policy, of the Almighty’s loving ways toward you and me.”
I would love to pray for you this week. Leave me a comment as to how I can pray for God to give you fresh persepctive.