Higher Ground

I’m pressing on the upward way,
New heights I’m gaining every day;
Still praying as I’m onward bound,
“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”

Refrain:
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 those 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 the 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, plant my feet on higher ground.”

Last night, Hannah and I went to an event called Do Justice that was hosted by the Memphis organization Agape. We heard two speakers, Brian Fikkert and Bryan Stevenson, both authors and both concerned with justice. Bryan Stevenson, the author of the book Just Mercy, talked broadly about criminal justice reform and about seeking justice as Christians.

He told the story of the first time we went into a prison to talk with an inmate on death row. He was nervous about it because he was still a law student and thought the inmate might wish for someone more qualified. The inmate walked in, hands and feet chained, hunched over and sullen. He looked defeated and explained that he hadn’t had visitors in two years and was afraid to let his family come because he was nervous that he would have an execution date set and would have to tell his family. He didn’t want them to have to deal with that.

After speaking with the man for three hours, the guards came to take the inmate away. Their conversation had changed the inmates demeanor, his face had brightened and he felt invigorated. As he was led away, the inmate began to sing a hymn, Higher Ground (I’m Pressing on the Upward Way). Stevenson’s point was that his time, his conversation, his proximity with the man gave him hope.

He called us last night to proximity. He believes that proximity is required to see justice realized, to see reconciliation, and to promote hope. Those of us who have the ability and the access to advocate have to place ourselves in uncomfortable positions. We have to step into the margins and meet the people who live there. We have to know them and to know their stories. It’s in being proximal that we develop the ability to change the social and cultural narratives that promulgate fear and anger towards people who are struggling.

The call was powerful. His words were powerful. They were convicting and urgent. We Christians so often fail at stepping outside ourselves and seeking reconciliation, hope, and love for people that don’t look like us, act like us, or live in our neighborhood. But isn’t that exactly what we’re called to do? Isn’t that what Christ did in humbling himself to become a man and to serve.

Prayer and Reflection

Pray for opportunities to be proximal. Pray for opportunities to seek justice and to humble yourself. Seek the margins, be brave, and give hope.

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s