Summary: Seventh and final in our Purpose-Driven Life series, this message looks at how to put into practice what we have learned in the previous 40 days.
Landing Safely After a Spiritual High
Wildwind Community Church
David K. Flowers
November 25, 2007
For those of you who have been part of the 40 Days spiritual journey that we’ve been on here at Wildwind, welcome. But I understand there will be some of you here that are maybe here for the first time and when I talk about the 40 Days that we’ve just experienced – you don’t know what we’re talking about. You may be just at the beginning of your spiritual journey. You may be somewhere in the middle. You start where you are. Some of you have been on a spiritual high in these past few weeks, as you have learned so much about God’s five purposes for your life – Worship, Fellowship, Growth, Service, and Evangelism. Some of you are still soaring coming out of the 40 days of our campaign.
How do you start on the next leg of your spiritual journey, especially, if you have been on a spiritual high? Let me ask you a question – what’s the highest point on earth? Mount Everest. 29,035 feet. Did you know that between 1,300 and 1,600 people have summitted Mt. Everest? They’ve made it all the way to the top. People have been attempting it since 1921. During that period of time, 160 plus people have died trying to summit Mt. Everest. That means that 1 in 8 die. And for that privilege, they pay about $60,000; give up 90 days of their lives, and 1 in 8 don’t make it back. What do you think that is about? Now certainly it’s the attraction; it’s saying I am in a small group of people that did something unique. But there’s also something about getting to the highest place that’s compelling.
Did you know more people die coming down Mt. Everest than going up it? See, you have to be extra careful coming off of a high place. And in life, if you’re not ready for the inevitable lows, spiritually and emotionally, you’re going to be in trouble. Life is a series of ups and downs, isn’t it? Life is a series of highs and lows. Today I want to help prepare you for that.
You know the highs are so good and the lows are so painful that there is something within us that just wants to hang on to the highs. We want to capture as much of heaven on earth as we possibly can. There’s a story in the Bible of Jesus on the mountain with his disciples and they had this unique, spiritual and I believe emotional experience. And then when Jesus was getting ready to descend, the disciples begged, “Could we just please stay here for a little longer?” We just want to hang on to the pieces of heaven on earth that we get.
There’s a great story about a little boy. He had this pet turtle, Albert, and all of a sudden Albert turns pale and rolls over on its back and lays motionless. So here’s this little guy and tears are streaming down his face and he carries this turtle to his dad. His dad is the ultimate salesman and he knows, “I’ve got to do a sales job on my heart-broken kid,” so he takes the turtle, puts it in a shoebox and he says, “Let me tell you son, this is the best thing that’s ever happened. Albert is walking around up in heaven right now. And I’ll tell you what we’re going to do. We’ll have a funeral party and you invite all your friends. After we have the funeral, we’ll have cake and ice cream and games for all your friends. It will be great.” This kid started to smile. So the dad knows, I need to really close the sale. He said, “Okay, so let’s go outside now, let’s have the burial in the backyard.” So they carried the shoebox out into the backyard. And just at the last moment, the little boy opens the lid, peeks inside and Albert is walking around like nothing had happened. With a disappointed look on his face he looks up at his dad and says, “Dad, can we kill him?” Now for all of you animal activists, please send any complaint emails to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You know there is a spiritual point to that story. We want spiritual highs at any price. We do. We want to stay spiritually high, but let me ask you. Is it possible to stay on a spiritual high? No. No, it’s not. If you read the Bible, what you’ll find is that the Bible is a parade of highs and lows, one right after another. Just take some examples. You know the story of Daniel, perhaps, in the Bible? Some of you don’t. Daniel was very faithful to God. That’s a high. But because of his faithfulness to God, he was thrown into a den of hungry lions. That’s a low. But the lions didn’t eat him. That’s a high. You see the pattern? There’s the story of Jonah. He runs away from God. That’s a low. He is swallowed by a great fish. That is a low. But the fish vomits him up on dry ground…is that a high or a low? It’s a high – there are only two ways out of a fish!