Gratitude and Altitude

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on the earth” (Colossians 3:1,2).
Why do we live in a world that is so ungrateful, so indifferent? Why do moms do so much for their kids — meals, a clean house, clean clothes — and rarely get thanked? Why do dads pull 65-hour weeks, bringing home food and shelter, but rarely get thanked? Why are law enforcement officials resented, rather than thanked for protecting the innocent? Why do church leaders — elders, teachers etc. — work so hard and receive as a norm criticism rather than gratitude? Why do we breathe free air, enjoy the bounty of our land, expect answers to prayer, and count on forgiveness, but rarely thank God?
It’s an old clich?: “We must develop the attitude of gratitude.” Well, I have a new one. “We must develop the altitude of gratitude!” Yes — I said “altitude,” as in “above sea level,” “Rocky Mountain high,” “Ladies and Gentlemen, today we will be cruising at about 30,000 feet.”
Altitude and gratitude!
On January 13, 1997, adventurer Steve Fossett climbed into the cockpit of a hot air balloon in St. Louis, MO, and rose into the sky with the intention of becoming the first man to circle the globe in a balloon. After three days he had crossed the Atlantic and was flying at 24,500 feet eastward over Africa.
The prevailing wind was carrying him on a direct course for Libyan air space. This presented a problem, because Libya had not granted him permission to use its air space, and he could very well be shot down. A second problem was that hot air balloons do not have a means to turn themselves around — no rudder or wings!
So what could he do?
The only way to direct the balloon away from danger was to change altitude, and hope that he met a cross wind, either lower than where he was currently flying, or higher. First he dropped his balloon several thousand feet, but the direction of the wind did not change. Then he raised the altitude of the balloon several thousand feet above his former altitude, and caught a cross current moving south east, thus allowing him to fly south of the rogue nation.
By raising his altitude, he had been saved. A person changes altitude by changing attitude! Our problem, I suspect, is that we don’t raise our altitude — we don’t think of things above. If we raised our thoughts and desires upward toward God, rather than downward toward the earth, we might be more grateful!

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Stan Mitchell

Stan has preached since 1976, in Zimbabwe, California, Texas and Tennessee. He serves as preacher for the Red Walnut Church of Christ in Bath Springs, TN. He is currently Professor of Bible at Freed-Hardeman University. He is married to the former Marjorie McCarthy, and has one daughter, Tracy Watts. He is the author of four books: The Wise Get Wiser, the Foolish More Foolish: The Book of Proverbs, Give the Winds a Mighty Voice: Our Worship in Song, and Equipping the Saints for Ministry. He has recently published another book, "Will Our Faith Have Children: Developing Leadership in the Church for the Next Generation.

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