Most High

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To listen to this reflection as a podcast, click here.
The Kingdom Tower in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, is going to be one tall building.
Originally scheduled for completion just before the pandemic, it will stand 3,280 feet.  That’s one kilometer, or sixth tenths of a mile high.  Guests will be able to stay at the Four Seasons Hotel, the world’s highest elevated lodging, which will occupy floors 115 to 156.
It will easily top the 2,717-foot Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where Tom Cruise seriously freaked out moviegoers in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. 
Even though global markets have been quavering throughout the past decade, significant prestige is associated with living in a metro area with a spectacular skyline.  That’s why the construction of mega-skyscrapers continues to accelerate. 
Malaysian construction crews are putting the finishing touches on the Merdeka 118 building in Kuala Lampur, which has now taken over second place in the “world’s tallest” category.  China boasts 10 of the 20 highest buildings in the world and, incredibly, plans to add at least 40 more skyscrapers during the next seven years – each of which will be taller than the Empire State Building. 
Construction of this magnitude was impossible until the arrival of two technologies a little more than a century ago: tempered steel and reliable elevators.
At first America took the lead.  The Empire State Building was completed in 1931 and at 1,250 feet was the tallest structure in the world for more than 40 years.  Today you’re lucky if your new skyscraper gets to be the tallest for 40 minutes. 
New York City’s most famous building, meanwhile, has plunged all the way down to 54th tallest in the world.  The majestic Chrysler Building just up the street, which also used to be the tallest on the planet, doesn’t even crack today’s top 100.   
At least we can say that King Kong chose to climb one of our skyscrapers.   
Things that are high have always fascinated human beings.  They are suggestive of power and transcendence. 
In Bible times, altars were typically built on “high places.”  Sacrifices were offered by high priests.  The devil tempted Jesus to leap from the highest point on the Temple Mount, because that would be spectacular.  We speak today of high ideals and high achievers.  Politicians run for high office.  The gunfight at the end of the typical western takes place at high noon, at which point the good guy makes sure the bad guy doesn’t go riding off on his high horse.
Even drug-taking is described as “getting high” – an experience that makes us feel that at least for a moment we can exist on a higher plane.
And who or what qualifies as the highest of the high?  That would be Yahweh, who 42 times on the pages of the Old Testament is described as El Elyon, or “Most High.”  Note the superlative.  God isn’t just somewhere up there with other important realities.  He towers above them all. 
El Elyon appears in texts like Psalm 91:1: “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.” 
Shadows are precious in the Holy Land.  A shadow provides relief from the burning sun.  A shadow can be a safe place to hide.  And God, as the “tallest” of all realities, casts the longest shadow.   
What does it mean to honor God as God? 
It means to do a fearless inventory of every single thing in my life to which I attribute value.
And then to live in such a way that I can say, with integrity, God tops this, too.