If you break the word down so that it is more readily understood. It means to rise above, to transcend, to excel, to surpass. When you look at the last few years in the history of our country, you have seen people and read about people who have used the word transcendence in a very personal way - they have risen above a lot of their ailments, their pain and their suffering. If you follow the cycling record of Lance Armstrong in France, with the terrible cancer that plagued his body, he still, with cancer and all, transcended his ailment and became one of the greatest bicycle riders of our age. If you look at the history of men like Scott Hamilton with testicular cancer, working and working in this great pain to become one of the more famous skaters of our age. If you look at the history of Peggy Fleming, a victim of breast cancer, still rising above, still excelling, still doing extraordinary work for others. If you look at the life of the famous skier, Chris Kluge, 19 months ago having a liver transplant and now this year appearing in the Olympics in Salt Lake City.
All of us know from our own experience with others of people years ago who came from the atrocities of the German concentration camps at Buchenwald and Dachau, overcoming the tragic atrocities that they were subjected to and still to come to this country and make a remarkable living. How many of us have heard about people who have come from other countries with not even two nickels to rub together, not knowing our language and in a few years own a couple of restaurants or dry cleaning establishments.
If you study the lives of most of these people, basically they started off the same way each of us started off. God gave them either five talents or two talents or one talent. And they took those talents and they focused on their principal desire, they had passion of conviction to work hard and harder if necessary and they succeeded.
Those people transcended, rose above whatever problems they had with a high degree of excellence that they achieved. If you look at the lives of the early apostles, a lot of them deserted Christ, one betrayed him, one doubted him and they all abandoned him. Yet, with the direction of Christ they went to the ends of the world preaching the gospel of the Jesus Christ they knew was to be crucified. One of the great teachings and legends we have in the church today is that Peter the apostle who took part in the three fold denial of Christ, fulfilling the prophecy of Christ before the cock crows three times you will have denied me. Peter realized his mistake. Peter realized his sin. He recognized the forgiveness of God and is the only apostle who asked that he be crucified upside down that the time of his death because he did not think himself worthy to be crucified in the same way that Christ was crucified.
Year after year we hear sermons reminding us that we are not living in Bangladesh or Calcutta. We hear sermons every year how about one half of the people go to bed at night hungry. We know for a fact that about 800 million people confront life on the salary of $400 a year and they survive, sadly, but they survive. When you think of all the adversity and all the limitations that people have had in their lives and have done something extraordinary with their lives, you wonder why we, who are so blessed by comparison, are doing so little. Do you think we have more people than we realize who are victims of self absorption, looking for attention, constantly indulging in self pity, constantly filled with all forms of denial? Do you think we have many people in this reading this article that might be filled with those limitations? Really, when you analyze it, when you think of all the privileges that we have been given, it is our area that should be finding the cures for cancer, the cure for aids because we have been given so much. We do not have the distractions of others who are trying to cope with life. Many, many times throughout the course of my week I am always working with people who tell me that it is their nature, they cannot do anything else, this is the way they are, they cannot change anything and you see so many people who have so many talents that have developed this philosophy of self absorption, self centeredness that they do not rise above those limitations and transcend them to achieve the greatness that God wants us to achieve on earth.
St. Paul has a beautiful line where he says, whether you eat or drink or sleep, whatever you do, do it for the honor and glory of God.
When you think of it, none of us have the ailments that so many of these individuals that we read about have gone through. Yet these individuals excel and achieve a degree of transcendence even with these major limitations, physical or mental. Somewhere along the course of our lives we have to ask ourselves, do we know what transcendence is all about. Does it ever occur to you to think that God wants you to transcend your daily life to excel and surpass so that the achievement you reach leaves the world a better place and your church a better place. We have all sorts of scandals today in the church. We have scandals in the business arena, we have scandals in the Salt Lake City Olympic arena and if there is ever a need for individuals to excel, to rise above and to achieve transcendence it is right now. You cannot go on with your life. indulging in your self absorption, self centeredness and your self pity and then think you are using the talents that God has given you. The kingdom of heaven is filled with people who rose above their limitations. The kingdom of heaven is filled with people who have taken the talents God has given them and used them to give honor and glory to God. The kingdom of heaven is filled with people who have lived out their lives aware of the value of transcendence. I hope and pray to God that each one of us in our lives recognized the obligation we have to transcend in a way that not only brings honor and glory to ourselves, but honor and glory to God.
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