Jonathan Oatman, Jr., in his classic 19th century song of the Higher Life entitled “Higher Ground,” writes this verse:
I want to live above the world
Tho’ Satan’s darts at me are hurled
For faith has caught the joyful sound
The song of saints on higher ground.
Lord, lift me up and let me stand
By faith on heaven’s table land
A higher plane than I have found
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.
This often seems so illusive—living above the world. How can we do that? When I was diagnosed with 3rd stage rectal cancer in 2007, I did not know if I was going to live or die. I sure did not feel like I was in heavenly places.
Soon after hearing of the diagnosis of cancer, I received an encouraging phone call from a retired pastor friend, which helped to change my perspective, attitude, and replies when people asked how I was doing. He told me of a card he had seen, which said on the outside, “Look down.” I did not understand what my friend meant—“What do you mean, ‘Look down.’ Aren’t you supposed to be encouraging me to look up?” Then he explained that on the inside of the card were the words, “You are seated in heavenly places.” He was encouraging me that I was seated above the worst of life with Christ in the heavens (Ephesians 2:6).
Jonathan Oatman gives six keys to this higher, heavenly life in these verses of his song:
- Desire—We have to want to live above the world.
- Determination—Regardless of whatever fiery darts are thrown at us, we are determined to press on.
- Faith—Visualizing what God sees, seeing ourselves with the eyes of faith in the heavenly places, living above the world.
- Joy—James wrote, “Count it all joy when various trials come upon you.” Nehemiah declared, “The joy of the Lord is your strength.”
- Corporate Song—A woman pastor I know overcame cancer, saying “I praised my way through.” But notice, this is not just solo praising, but “the song of saints on higher ground.” It is joining in songs of praise with others, encouraging one another and being encouraged by the community of faith, not fighting our battles alone.
- Dependency upon Jesus Christ alone—repeatedly praying, “Lord, lift me up. . . . Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.” We cannot achieve this heavenly life by our efforts. We are lifted by Him. The old hymn says it well, “When nothing else could help, love lifted me.”
That is what this blog is about—looking at life from the throne of God, where we are seated in the heavenly places. Sometimes when we are going through a trial, people ask us, “How are you doing?” And we reply, “OK, under the circumstances.” The next time someone asks you that, say, “I’m looking down—on top of my circumstances, looking down on them.” For, if you are a believer in Jesus, you are, indeed, seated in heavenly places—above your circumstances. View your situation from mountain-top perspective, not a view from the valleys of your life.