Go Above & Beyond

When I hear the phrase “go above and beyond,” I usually think of other people, never myself.  Why is that?  Perhaps it is because to go above and beyond requires bravery, sacrifice and faith.  I don’t know if I willingly enter into the challenges required to go above and beyond.  For example, when I think of bravery I think of the Disney character Prince Philip in Sleeping Beauty.  This guy had to break out of a dungeon, fight his way through a forest of thorns and then fight the evil dragon, Maleficent, on top of a very small mountain before he was able to finally rescue his princess.  He definitely went above and beyond in order to rescue his sleeping beauty.  Then there is Ariel from Disney’s Little Mermaid.  She sacrificed her voice at the risk of her life in order to become human and have a chance at love.  She went above and beyond what most of us would do in order to get a first date!  Finally, we can think of the hobbits, Sam and Frodo from The Lord of the Rings who had such faith in good triumphing over evil that they walked through the wicked lands of Mordor, battled a giant spider and faced a raging volcano just because they wanted to save the Shire.  They went above and beyond by faith in good triumphing over evil.  Listen to a little bit of the dialogue between Sam and Frodo:

I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.

Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?

Sam: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo… and it’s worth fighting for. (Lord of the Rings, Return of the King)

Going above and beyond means that we are willing to hold onto the good we have in Jesus because we know that this dark world needs His light.

We can find another example of someone going above and beyond because she found something worth fighting for.   Queen Esther is placed into royal position by God and then given a choice –  to go above and beyond for her people who had been threatened with annihilation or to sit back and follow the proper protocol of her day.  In Esther 4:16 we read evidence of her decision to go above and beyond as she sends a message to her uncle saying: “Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.”

The interesting thing is that all of the above examples were characters motivated by love for people, belief in good and strength in their destiny.  But all that pales in comparison to the way that God went above and beyond in order to save you.  If Disney were to put the story of Jesus into a movie, the plot might go something like this:

Suppose there was a king who loved a humble maiden. The king was like no other king. Every statesman trembled before his power. No one dared breathe a word against him, for he had the strength to crush all opponents. And yet this mighty king was melted by love for a humble maiden who lived in a poor village in his kingdom. How could he declare his love for her? In an odd sort of way, his kingliness tied his hands. If he brought her to the palace and crowned her head with jewels and clothed her body in royal robes, she would surely not resist-no one dared resist him. But would she love him? She would say she loved him, of course, but would she truly? Or would she live with him in fear, nursing a private grief for the life she had left behind? Would she be happy at his side? How could he know for sure? If he rode to her forest cottage in his royal carriage, with an armed escort waving bright banners, that too would overwhelm her. He did not want a cringing subject. He wanted a lover, an equal. He wanted her to forget that he was a king and she a humble maiden and to let shared love cross the gulf between them. For it is only in love that the unequal can be made equal. The king, convinced he could not elevate the maiden without crushing her freedom, resolved to descend to her. Clothed as a beggar, he approached her cottage with a worn cloak fluttering loose about him. This was not just a disguise—the king took on a totally new identity—He had renounced his throne to declare his love and to win hers.  -Soren Kierkegaard

Jesus went above and beyond for you because He loves you – deeply, truly and perfectly.  He bravely fought through the road of suffering, He sacrificed His very life and He had faith in God’s plan of salvation for His chosen bride.

So, who can you go above and beyond for in your life in order to show the love of Christ to one who desperately needs to see it?  Perhaps you are surrounded by people who are difficult to love.  All the more reason that you will need to rely on the Spirit to give you the bravery you need, to enable you to make the sacrifices required and most of all to have the faith that love really does conquer all even if it means going above and beyond what the world calls love.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son,
that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16

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