I remember back in middle school, one day Keith Jernigan and I decided we were going to try and hear some secret messages in the Led Zeppelin song, “Stairway to Heaven”, by playing the record backwards. We raced downstairs to the basement of his house, took the Zeppelin album, pulled out the LP record and put it on his parents record player in the downstairs family room. We dropped the needle on the record and spent the next hour trying to decipher some messages by turning the record in the opposite direction. Nothing…..we heard absolutely nothing and it ended up being an hour wasted. Bored, we left everything in the basement and instead went outdoors to shoot baskets in Keith’s driveway.
Now if you’re under the age of 30, you probably have no idea what I’m taking about….this concept of “backward masking”, where you play a record backwards. And even if you did, good luck finding an old record to try and hear what I’m taking about, much less find an actual copy of that Led Zeppelin album.
This morning at our workout, we did one of my favorite exercises…running up and down the stairwell at the Queens University parking deck. And while the workout was challenging, have you ever walked up or down a set of stairs and found them to just not be quite right? My father-in-law likes to complain about the somewhat new stairs at the golf course. He swears they are not done to code. So what exactly is “code” for making stairs? Well, it’s commonly referred to in the industry as “rise over run”. Some of you might recall that from high school geometry classes. In construction, it’s the vertical distance between steps (called the “rise”) and the horizontal distance on each step from front to back (called the “run”). The standard ratio for the construction of stairs is 7 to 11. In easier terms, it’s 7 inches of rise by 11 inches of run.
Now getting back to our Zeppelin song, I’m sad to report that there actually isn’t a “stairway to heaven”. You can’t go down the block or around the corner, or even to another country to find some magical set of stairs up into the clouds. How do we know that? Well, the Gospel of John reminds us that there’s only been one person to every descend and ascend into Heaven….Jesus! Check out John 3:13
“No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven–the Son of Man.” (NIV, John 3:13)
So without a secret stairway to heaven, does this mean we’re doomed to stay down here on earth? No way….! Figuratively speaking, I say we just need to remember the code for the correct stairwell….Rise over Run….. Earlier I gave you the dimensions for building stairs. The number “seven” is our figure for the rise….and in Biblical terms, “seven” also signifies perfection and completion. This best example of this is in the story of creation where it took seven days for God to form creation. As for the second number, the number 11, there’s a wide array of explanations and theories about what “eleven” means. For me, I think it’s very simple. Looking at the number 11, I see one person standing in front of another person…..and Biblically speaking, perhaps this symbolizes the day when we will ultimately be judged by our Creator.
So use that simple expression of “rise over run” as you consider how you should be living your life. Are you seeking perfection and completion? And are you ready to be judged when it comes your time to stand face-to-face with our Creator.