My wife and I get along great. Arguments and hurt feelings are rare things around our house. However, there is one subject that has continued to cause tension and heated debates throughout our fifteen years of marriage. Music. On that topic, we have vastly different opinions and preferences and I don’t see any hope for resolution.
Penny and I were both children of the 80’s but she often chides me that based on what I listen to, I must have been born in the 1880’s instead of the 1980’s. I do admit that I LOVE classical music and older songs. For example, Penny and I both clearly remember our first CD (my younger readers might need to Google what that is.) While hers was an album by Debbie Gibson (time for another Google search, kiddos), mine was a recording of the London Philharmonic Symphony performing Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. See what I mean?
While my musical preferences may have kept me from being the cool kid at school, my appreciation for the less than modern has ended up serving me quite well. I do actually listen to and greatly enjoy contemporary music, but there’s just something about those older songs that really speaks to me. More often than not, when I catch myself randomly singing a song or humming a melody the music will be from a time long before I was born.
So it was today when, while on a brief stroll through the church, I realized that I was singing the same verse of an old hymn over and over again. I quickly grabbed a hymnal and turned to a page I knew very well. The verse that had gotten stuck in my head was the second stanza of the great classic, “Higher Ground.” Let me share with you those lyrics that had captured my attention.
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.
These words gave a much needed reminder that there is a tremendous difference between simply having a moment of doubt or fear and allowing yourself to live, to dwell, in a constant state of fear and lack of faith. What the author of these lines was stating was his personal commitment to seek a better way of living, a higher ground, when those challenges inevitably arise.
None of us are immune from ever having moments of doubt or struggles with fear. However, God has called us to walk by faith, and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7) but that means that the daily journey we take with Him won’t always be easy. He is constantly calling us to place our trust in Him, in His timing, and in His will. But just like oil and water, fear and trust don’t mix. I will on occasion encounter times doubt and fear, but If I choose to “dwell where these abound,” I find myself struggling to live out my trust in God.
So how do we seek this higher ground? Consider this passage from Scripture.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8–9, ESV)
When the storm clouds of doubt begin to gather, I would remind you to think of that old hymn, and that your heart would have “no desire to stay” in that dark place. Seek the things of God. Surround yourself with the Word, with worship, and with whatever is true and pure and lovely and excellent. If you do so, the higher ground you find will be the peace of God.