I'm rearranging the scheduled topic of asking 'Does heaven initiate experiences or does earth?' to the topic of 'Higher Ways' because of some recent events in our family's life.
Isaiah 55:7-9: "Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man (forsake) his thoughts, and let him return to the Lord...and He will have mercy on him...and abundantly pardon...For my thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts (are higher) than your thoughts."
This passage has been used from the pulpit to proclaim how much higher and loftier the Lord's ways and thoughts are than ours, leaving congregants with the sting of hopelessness in their efforts to see their prayers answered and destiny's fulfilled. He is SO high and I am SO low, how can I ever attain? How can I ever get victory?
That is not the point of these verses. Note in verse 7 the wicked/unrighteous man forsakes his ways and thoughts, and returns to the Lord (and His ways and thoughts).
The word 'forsake' means 'to abandon and renounce'. The wicked and unrighteous man is abandoning and renouncing his ways and thoughts, and RETURNING to the Lord and His ways and thoughts. This is an invitation to leave our ways and thoughts and come up to the higher ways and thoughts of the Lord. This is what renewing the mind and walking daily with the Lord is all about - forsaking our way and learning to think in line with the Father as we walk with Him.
Example from my own life: Weather change?
Barb and I recently returned from a 2 week trip that included a 5 day mini-reunion with 2 of our sons and daughters in law and our 6 grandchildren over the 4th of July holiday in the Seattle area (it would have been impossible for us to take Chris, our oldest son, the handicapped one, though we would have loved to have had all 3 boys together).
Barb and I continued on to ministry time on Vancouver Island then eastward and down into Bozeman and Billings, Montana. (A 7-10 day strictly ministry trip for the Portland-Seattle-Vancouver-Vancouver Island area is planned in the future)
Before our trip I asked the Father for the sake of our kids and grand-kids, that He would make sure we had clear skies and temperatures in the 70-75F (21-24C) range. If you know that area of the world you know that can be a tall order, but I had peace that it would be so.
As the trip approached the area was having the usual cold, cloudy, and wet weather it is known for, and the weather forecast for that week was for more of the same - but I had peace so I followed the peace and didn't change plans.
That whole week was exactly as requested; the rain and low temperatures moved out the evening we flew in, replaced by sun and warm temperatures the whole 2 weeks as I had asked!
Am I to believe that the Father God changed a whole region's weather pattern for little old us, providing millions of people (finally) their summer weather just because some guy in Oklahoma wanting to have a nice holiday and ministry time while visiting the area made request?
That would be the height of arrogance, and totally incorrect. The truth is that I do my best to walk in the higher ways and thoughts of the Lord, having forsaken my ways and thoughts many years ago (though I remain a work in progress as you'll see below). When it came into my heart to have the family reunion and ministry time, I consulted with the Father and got an immediate peace about the trip.
Once I had that peace, which is the word from heaven that He was in agreement with the trip, or to say it another way, He was thinking I should do the trip too, my requests for weather and temperatures were naturally in accordance with His higher thoughts and ways concerning the trip.
In fact, He knew before the laying the foundation of the earth that I would at this time have the idea to put the trip together, and He coordinated even my desire for good and warm weather precisely with His thoughts from way back then. (Ephesians 2:10, II Timothy 1:9)
Missed it this time
We flew out Tuesday, July 2, leaving our house early in the morning. Monday the 1st, the day before this trip, was constantly busy from sun up to way past sun down. Neighbors to instruct in the watering of the garden, laundry, ministry work, emails, phone calls - you know what the day before a big trip is like!
That's when my lap top broke. Beyond repair (for now at least). I had work to do and needed a lap top on the trip, so off to Walmart I went, buying a basic bargain lap top (which still has far more power, memory and capability than my 2 year old now broken one).
On set up I entered my password as instructed, completed the set up, then spent the day getting ready for the trip on other things. About 8pm (20:00) I flipped up the lid, entered my password and saw the message 'incorrect password'. I re-entered - same message. What was wrong with this stupid computer!??!
I called the help line. A patient man explained there is no secret code to get past that blue screen and little box where one enters his or her password. I pressed him for some secret industry code - no such thing. His suggestion was to go back to Walmart and exchange it for a new one.
Having spent an hour or more in set up and phone call, and it being now 9:15pm (21:15) and knowing I would have to be up by sunrise thirty (about 5:30am), I wasn't a happy camper.
I asked "Father why don't you just tell me what I did wrong" and was vaguely aware of my angel's presence in the living room, but I was too agitated to pay attention as I huffed to my truck and in the near dark explained to Barb I had to drive the 25 minutes to Walmart to start the process all over again.
60's music take me away
The drive into town winds around the lake we live on, and once the sun goes down deer seem to think the middle of the road is their special place to meet and talk about the day, so I put my mellow 60's music on my iPhone, put the ear buds in, started praying and singing in the Spirit and worshipping the Father, and slowly drove on through the gathering darkness.
(I realize me worshipping the Lord and singing in the Spirit to the melody of mellow 60's music may offend some, but maybe its my 54 years old or meeting the Lord in 1974, but much of modern music labeled 'worship' simply isn't. I love Hillsongs and Michael W. Smith's worship songs, but give me The 2nd Chapter of Acts, Keith Green, Honeytree, or mellow 60's songs and I'm making melody in my heart to the Lord just fine)
Somewhere on the other side of the bridge into town and the Vogues singing "You're the One" (or was it 'Ferry Cross the Mersey' by Gerry and the Pacemakers?) my mind drifted off the song and into that spiritually neutral wavelength as I worshipped in tongues where I was once again aware of my angel, this time crouching in the bed of my pickup just to my right and behind me on the other side of the (rear) window.
He said: "You accidentally touched 'caps lock' when you entered the letters, and accidentally touched it again to release it when you entered the numbers." I was only going 35 mph at the time (56 kph) but I pulled over into a parking lot and slammed the brakes on so fast a by-stander would have thought I'd lost control.
I took the carefully re-wrapped computer out of the box, turned it on, made sure I didn't touch the caps lock key, and the computer said 'Welcome John'....ARGH!!!! Suddenly my angel said: "You could have received this immediately at home if you'd just been more calm about it." ARGH again.
(I mumbled an 'I'm sorry Father' as I slowly drove home, no music on, feeling the mix of relief and embarrassment one might feel if they'd had a bursting bladder so had to pee their pants - you can't help feeling relieved but you also can't help feeling embarrassed and just hope no one notices.)
That my friends, is an example of taking the low way - I stuck to my ways and thoughts until almost the last minute. There awaits for us the invitation to come up to higher ways and thoughts, accompanied by a Guide, the Holy Spirit, to help us stay in those higher ways and thoughts.
Paul said in Philippians 3:15 that if, as we press toward the mark of the high call in Christ we are otherwise minded, the Lord will reveal this to us. That's what happened when I finally calmed down enough to hear that word of knowledge on what I did wrong on the computer password.
And that's the process I want to take apart for you in this series. How to leave old ways and thoughts and start walking in the Father's higher ways and thoughts. Next week I'll share how our son, Chris, the handicapped one, nearly died while we were on this trip and how the Father saved his life. When it counted, we moved in His higher ways and thoughts and saved Chris' life.
Next week then, blessings,