Years ago, when I was a child, our family took a trip out east to visit Washington D.C. We were campers, so when we found our camp ground for the week, the camp ground manager asked my dad where he wanted to camp – on the lower part of the campground near the office and all the amenities, or at one of the higher ground campsites, up the hill a ways away. For the past half hour, my dad had been whistling the tune to Higher Ground, his favorite hymn. Since the Lord had brought that tune into his head, he promptly answered, “Higher ground.”
We made the trek uphill to our campsite, and set up camp. Later that night a terrible storm came. It was so bad that I distinctly remember having to stand up part of the night holding up the sides of our camper for fear it would blow over during the storm. I couldn’t have been more than 10 or 12 at the time, so this was a very scary night for me. The details of that night have stuck with me these past 40 years. I was not only amazed at how bad the storm was, but was also aware that we could be blown away with it.
Eventually the storm quieted and we were able to go to sleep for the night. The next morning we decided to check out, not ever having been able to see Washington D.C. We discovered that we had to sit tight for a couple of days while they built a new road for us to travel down. The storm had washed away our road to the lower level of the camp ground. In the meantime we listened to the reports of how the storm had affected the area.
All news reports had confirmed that the storm wreaked havoc on the area and D.C. was pretty much under water. There would be no adventure for our family to our nation’s capital on this vacation. We were very disappointed, but as we gained clearance to take the trek back down into the lower part of the campground on the new road they built, we saw the devastation all around us. The high winds had swept several campers and vehicles into the river adjacent to the campground and many campers and tents had been blown away. In my mind’s eye I can see the floating campers and the rescue vehicles working at pulling them out.
It was obvious to us that our father had been given a song that would be instrumental in his decision to choose “higher ground.” Since that day I gained a new appreciation for my father’s connection to His Savior and realized in a tangible way that God is a God of protection – if we’ll just allow Him to keep us underneath His umbrella. I’ve kept that “umbrella” with me since then and have had many occasions that I’ve based my reaction upon the reflection of those days in D.C.
Here are the words God gave our family that day so long ago:
I’m pressing on the upward way, New heights I’m gaining every day;
Still praying as I onward bound, “Lord, plant my feet 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.
My heart has no desire to stay, Where doubts arise and fears dismay;
Tho’ some may dwell where these abound, My prayer, my aim, is higher ground.
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.
I want to scale the upmost height, And catch a glimpse of glory-bright;
But still I’ll pray till Heav’n I’ve found, “Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”