I grew up in the hills of Eastern Kentucky. Although I have been blessed to travel far and wide, the hills have always had a claim on my heart. After finishing a career in higher education, I retired in the gently rolling countryside of central Kentucky. But, the hills continued to call.
About 10 years ago, I joined with a friend who lives in Eastern Kentucky to establish a church planting ministry there. Now, once a week, I take the two-hour trip up the Mountain Parkway to our home base at Bear Pen in Wolf County. As I gaze through the windshield, my heart thrills each time I see the hills looming ahead.
One of my spiritual heroes in the Bible is Caleb, a man who also felt drawn to the hills. At 80 years old, with the Exodus and wilderness journey behind, he longed for the challenge of the mountains. He wanted to continue being a soldier for the Lord. “Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the LORD spoke in that day; for you heard in that day how the Anakim were there, and that the cities were great and fortified. It may be that the LORD will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the LORD said” (Joshua 14:12, NKJV).
In the spiritual realm, there is an upward call to the human spirit. It is a call to rise above the lowlands of ‘wake, eat, work, sleep, and repeat’. The hymn ‘Higher Ground’ by Johnson Oatman, Jr. beautifully expresses this upward call:
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.
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.
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.
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.”
Does your heart yearn for higher ground? Do you have a desire to be closer to the Lord? If so, scripture provides the pathway; “Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully” (Psalm 24:3-4, NKJV).
Prayer: Lord, let us walk in the light as you are in the light so that we may have fellowship one with another and your blood will cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:7). With clean hands and a pure heart, we may to ascend the hill of the Lord.
~ Brother Roy