by Doug Bing, Washington Conference president
Do you like switchbacks? Those winding trails through forests that twist and turn and lead you to some special mountain top or some mountain lake at times seem to go on forever as you slowly head to your destination.
The first time you are on a new trail in the mountains the switchbacks seem to last forever. You are climbing and as you climb you are always turning and climbing and turning and climbing.
At times I have wondered if I am ever going to reach the top. At times I have said, “I sure hope this climb and all these switchbacks are worth the climb."
Some times along the trail you can see where other climbers have taken short cuts straight up the mountain. No doubt that was the far more difficult path and far more dangerous and more likely to injure oneself. The first time I climbed to Tolmie Peak close to Mt. Rainer I wondered if we were every going to get there. But when we reached the top it was the most spectacular view.
Proverbs 15:24 states,
The way of life winds upward for the wise that he may turn away from hell (or Sheol) below.
God is telling us that in this life there are many switchbacks.
There are many twists and turns as we press on in the upward way. The point is to keep winding upward. Stay on the path no matter how many twists and turns. Stay on the path even when it seems we will never reach the top.
A favorite hymn of mine is “The Upward Way.” The message of the song is that each day we press on and each day reach new heights.
May we join together in praying “Lord, plant my feet on higher ground." We may have doubts and the world may beckon. But let us keep praying and aiming for higher ground.
I’m pressing on the upward way,
New heights I’m gaining ev'ry 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.
2 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]
3 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]
4 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]
Source: One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism: an African American ecumenical hymnal #492
Here is one audio recording of "Higher Ground" for you to listen to and sing aloud or in your heart.