A low floor and a high ceiling

There are two characteristics that I really admire in people. Firstly, some people just have this amazing capacity to endure in tough circumstances. They can be taken anywhere or put through anything and they don’t crack. They take it in their stride, get on with life and make it happen. I really admire this kind of never-say-die perseverance through stress and suffering. I call it ‘having a low floor’ in their capacity. Things can get really low, and yet they can still handle it and maintain a good attitude. Secondly, you get people who have what I call ‘a high ceiling’. These are the people with a flair for life. They are dissatisfied with living on the level of day-to-day survival – they want to prosper. These people bring excess and creativity into a situation, always striving for the best possible experience – to master the art of living well. If you think about it, which one is more like you?

Often a weakness or blind spot comes with these strengths. Those who suffer well also tend to suffer needlessly, or they have no desire to put effort into ‘unnecessary extras’. To them, life should be lived humbly – those practicing the ‘art of living’ are met with the suspicion of superficiality or arrogance. These low-floor people also have a low ceiling – a war-time mentality. Conversely, the high floor in many high-ceiling types would render them quite useless in a war. Their happiness and functioning are often very fragile, being based on external things. To them, life must be lived for the pleasure of it – and those who do not seek this passionately are met with the suspicion of cultural bankruptcy. Interestingly, I have met many people with either a low floor or a high ceiling, but not too many with both. Christians, too, seem to relate more to either the high ceilings of Abraham and Solomon or the low floors of Job and John the Baptist! My conviction, however, is that God aims to stretch our personal capacity in both directions. In Jesus, the King and the Suffering Servant, our inheritance is both a high ceiling and a low floor. We can live out both His glory and his humility.

ceilingfloor2Let me illustrate this with a personal story…

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A thought about creation and glory

It is a beautiful thought to me that Christianity is about more than just righteousness. We were made to be glorious in God – and this is the goal of our salvation. The bud of our new birth can begin to bloom into a flower of God’s glory, even in this life. When I look at the creation around me, I see a Creator who goes beyond what’s expected or needed – who gets joy out of creating. There is an unnecessary-ness about the varieties of flowers, the hugeness of space and the detail of the micro-sphere. We live in a universe that has an excessive quality about it. It is endlessly fresh.


One morning I looked up into a tree and saw six puffy baby finches lined up along a branch singing their tiny hearts out – the picture of merry innocence. And it just suddenly occurred to me that if I had created such cute little things, surely I would have been in an extremely good mood. Those birds weren’t just designed for practical purposes, they seemed like a passionate poem! There is such an over-the-top glory in God and His creation, a radiant glory that brings refreshment and inspires. God is not just perfect, He’s beautiful.

Have you ever thought:

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