Yeah, I know. Your mind probably zipped back to the iconic rock classic from Led Zeppelin, “Stairway to Heaven.” Me too. I still love that song and always crank it up when I hear it.
But this is about another stairway to heaven. As a young boy I was totally taken by a painting I saw which pictured angels climbing up and down a stairway presumably to be with God Almighty on His throne in heaven. Back then God was an old, snarling, bearded, gray haired man breathing fire from his nostrils and throwing lightning bolts from his hands. It was indeed a very intimidating depiction of our Father, but it kept us young hooligans in line here on earth. The message: don’t piss off the Father or the consequences at judgment day will be dire.
Fast forward to a young man about 38 years old with several years sobriety under his belt and pretty damn sure about everything spiritual. That stairway became an escalator with signposts along the way: read the Bible every day, memorize a verse today, pray ceaselessly even when you don’t want to, love your neighbor as yourself, go to church every Sunday, give up ********for Lent (you fill in the blanks), don’t lie or cheat or steal, throw 10 % to the collection plate, don’t blaspheme and don’t swear oaths. The list went on and on riding that escalator to heaven. Then one day I met a stranger going the other way. He was going down on the up escalator. Why on earth, thought I to myself, would someone be going in the opposite direction from heaven?
“Sir,” said I concerned about his misdirection. “You are going the wrong way, heaven is up, not down.”
“Son,” bellowed the stranger, “I am going down to be with the people who need me; the hungry, the poor, the oppressed, the sinners, the lonely, the homeless, the friendless. There amongst them I shall do the work of my Father.”
“Oh, and who are you?”
“I have many names, but you should call me Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God. Follow me and I shall make you a fisher of men. I shall show you heaven on earth.”
“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” LUKE 9:23