From The Hills To The Heavens
There is an old story about two Jewish men, who were among those fleeing Egypt in the Exodus. They are in the middle of the throngs talking to each other as they are walking through the parted waters of the Red Sea on the flight from Egypt. They are complaining about their muddy feet because their eyes are focused down, and they are missing the event going on around them.
So many of us do this. We spend a good deal of our lives looking down, focused on the things that we perceive as oppressive, or as rejections, or as struggles. We expend a great deal of energy denying our own participation in those things, blaming our problems on others. We do this so much that we miss the good things that God is doing for us. We forget, in other words, to look up. We forget that Christ has won the victory, once and for all. Look Up! “Keep your eyes on the prize.”
God does not want us to go through our lives looking down, concerned about things over which we have no control. It is so easy to lose sight of who we are and what we are all about. It’s true that we often get bored with waiting for the things we want. We get tired of waiting. Sometimes we do things we ought not do. We can even get caught up in the habit of doing this. We lie once, then again, then one more time, and before we know it we are at the bottom of the hill wondering how we got there, how we let ourselves get so far off the track. We are all too human at times, aren’t we.
On the other hand, if we make it our habit to look up, to look up to God, we see what we ought to see and we are able to do what we ought to do. We see the beauty in the world. We see the beauty in our brothers and sisters, and we see the beauty in our own selves. When we see that all this beauty is pure gift from God, we see ourselves and the world in the light of God’s grace. When we look up to God, we walk in his ways, we do not get lost. We are able to overcome the negative things in life, because we see that, in most cases, they are temporary and do not have control over our lives. We are able to see that we are free to choose our attitudes in response to them.
By looking up we have our eyes on the right prize and we are enabled to move forward in the light of God’s wisdom, even if difficulties come our way, unbidden. Why look down then? Why would we want to miss the wonder and the grace that is all around us?
Let us pray, then, as the Psalmist did so long ago:
“I lift up my eyes to the hills–
from where will my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.”
Keep your eyes on heaven, not just on earth. The earth is God’s creation. It is full of God’s grace and beauty, but it is heaven that makes it so. If we see with heavenly eyes, we are able to see the things of this world, this earth, in their truest beauty. Our vision will not be limited by finite things. If we look up to God we will be able to see more clearly the will of God.
C.S. Lewis, had to learn to lift his eyes up after he lost his wife to death. He was, like any of us might be, lost in the suffering of that loss for some time. But he journaled about his suffering and gradually his eyes began looking up to the only one who could lift the weight of sorrow off of his mind and soul. When this happened he found himself “surprised by joy.”
Let us then look up to God.
Let us no longer look only at the problems of life, the struggles, the fears.
Let us look up to the hills.
Let us look up into the face of our loving and merciful God.
Dan Doyle is a retired professor of English and Humanities. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology. To read more of Dan’s work, click here.