I had the privilege of being part of the funeral service in Kosciusko a few weeks ago for Jennings Orr. After a long and distinguished career in various government agencies, Jennings headed up the business division at the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board for over a decade. He was an outstanding man and a genuine and great Christian. During the funeral service, his three sons paid high tribute and shared beautiful memories of their dad. One of the memories that was mentioned several times in their presentations was that Jennings would say to them, “Make all ‘UPs.’”
I had never heard that phrase before and asked about it after the funeral was over. I was told it was Jennings’s way of telling his sons to do good, do their best, make good grades, strive for excellence — all the kinds of character traits we would want to instill in our children and the kinds of actions that the Apostle Paul would tell us the Lord would want us to do. No doubt, the concept was in Paul’s mind as the Lord led him to write, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14).
Make all UPs. Do the best you can with what you have where you are at the moment, but give it your best. Make all UPs. As I thought about it, the fact is that Jesus, the Son of God, the only perfect man to walk on earth, did that very thing. He, Himself, made all UPs, always. I got to thinking about Jesus while He was here, moving from place to place. It just kind of jumped off the page into my heart after hearing that phrase from Jennings Orr’s life. You see it everywhere in the Gospels, that Jesus made all UPs. Let me point out just four UPs in Jesus’s life.
One — There are the Searching UPs. In Luke 19:5, Jesus is going through Jericho. He stops and looks up into a sycamore tree and there’s a guy looking down at Him. You know him. It’s Zacchaeus. There stands Jesus looking up at a man who is needing a Savior and help and new direction in life — and needing to be saved. I suppose it would be true of every one of us that we need to have that part of Jesus’s life fill us daily, that we would be looking up for those people.
I’ve often wondered if anybody else even noticed that Zacchaeus was up that tree. Whether they did or not, Jesus saw him. He looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, you can come down now, for I’m going to your house today.” The Searching UPs of life should fill not only our hearts and minds, but our sight. There may be a child or a friend who is in desperate need of someone to help them climb down from the predicament that has them up a tree so they can come to a meeting with Jesus. The searching UPs ought to grab our attention.
Second — There are the Supplying UPs of Jesus. It all took place in that experience where Jesus is going to feed the 5,000. Listen to what John records in chapter six, verse five: “When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, ‘Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?’” He saw these hungry, empty, longing people when He lifted up His eyes on that great company, but then something happened and Luke records it in describing the same event in chapter nine, verse 16 of his Gospel, where it is written, “Then he took the five loaves and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed them, and brake, and gave to the disciples to set before the multitude.” Jesus looked up to heaven to bless the meagerness of what He was holding. The Supplying UPs.
Think for a moment about the challenges in your life that are just overwhelming and impossible to get your arms around and tackle. Feeding 5,000 with five loaves and two fishes is no small deal, but Jesus said we too can look up and find a God who is not only big enough to take care of our needs but willing to meet the needs in our lives. Paul writes that He could supply all our needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. He can meet your needs today. Join Him and look up.
Third — There are the Saving UPs. What do I mean by that? It can be found in John 12:32, where it is written, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” Jesus can save you. He can save anyone you know around you because He has been lifted up from the earth to die for our sins. The Saving UPs are when Jesus reaches out to people and says, “I want to save you.” The knock of Jesus at their heart’s door comes to one after another after another. If you have heard it and maybe ignored it, He comes to you even now wanting to save you.
Fourth — There are the Shouting UPs. Luke 21:28 states, “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” In a world that seems to be filled with chaos and is turned upside down, Jesus reminds us that’s the way it may get before He comes to get us. Like a thief in the night, He will come and get His people. You and I don’t need to live in discouragement and despair, for we can look up and the shout from heaven will come. The Shouting UPs. A sound is going to go out from heaven. The shout of the archangel and the trump of God shall sound and we shall be caught up to meet Him in the air (1 Thess. 4:16-17).
The legacy of Jennings Orr to his boys, his family, and to us is to, “Make all ‘UPs,’” and better than that listen to the UPs of Jesus. Be encouraged and keep on serving Him faithfully.
The author can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.