Psalm 121-A song of ascents.
1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.
Plodding along on this chronological Bible reading path, the next reading is one of my favorites, and probably one of yours too. There are countless songs and embroidered pillows that display these verses. They are that good. And today, for me, they are that relevant. You see we just got back from the mountains. And I can attest, that they are beautiful. And they are also terrifying. As my dear husband was taking those curves around Grandfather mountain, you better believe I could relate to David when he said “Where does my help come from?” Just kidding Babe, your driving was perfect 🙂 If he could chime in here, he would be quick to remind me that he has never driven into a mountain. And I, in all honesty, cannot say the same. But that is a topic for a different day. Where was I?
Mountains are terrifying. And breathtaking. All in one. We took a lovely (read: death defying)hike to see Linville Falls. The first stop is not high. It is dangerous, sure, but there are no 10 story drops.
At the second stop, however, you could see the first stop, way down below. Now we were adding some height to our journey and those retainer walls? Were they building retainer walls for ants?? 😉 With 5 children 12 and under I couldn’t get off of that overlook fast enough. Take some pictures, GET AWAY FROM THE EDGE!! And let’s go!!
Of course we couldn’t stop there. We continued up the mountain. Then from the 3rd view you could see the other two views and now, well- those heights were nothing! Quickest picture ever. Please for the love of all that is good and right don’t go near that 1 foot tall retainer wall that is BEGGING you to bend over it and look down. Lord have mercy, that was terrifying! But breathtaking! Did I mention that?
Thinking on this passage, and remembering our hike, brought to mind that famous quote from C.S Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe when they were discussing Aslan, a type of Jesus.
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
There is a common misconception floating around that we in the church likely had a hand in perpetuating, and it is this. If you follow God your life will get easier. Blessings will abound, prosperity will flow like the salmon of Capistrano, and life will be yours for the taking. Don’t get me wrong. There is truth in that premise. The problem comes in when we define blessings. When we look at the accounts in the Bible of those that followed God, most, like David, cried out for help at some point, if not most points. Their lives were not a walk in the park, and many had terrifying plot lines. Being fed to Lions, having your life and the lives of your people threatened, losing children, losing heads, being barren for 90 years, being swallowed by a great fish! No, following God is not safe. But it is good. He promises that He will never leave us. He will not slumber. He will not sleep. He watches us. He is watching our coming and going both now and forever more.
Lift your eyes to the hills.
What hill? Some say that David was talking about the hill of Zion. The mighty hill. Set your eyes on the things above. Let us throw off everything that hinders, run with perseverance, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. He is perfecting our faith. Through every mountain. Through every terrifying cliff. And He knows what it is like. Because for the joy set before him, He endured. He endured the cross, despising the shame. And now. Now He sits at the right hand of the Father where He is interceding for you and for me!
Back to my mountains…..
Being a passenger in a large SUV around those curves- it really was a challenge. I kept telling myself, Paul is a good driver. He has driven these mountains countless times. If I just close my eyes, I won’t be scared. And that would actually work. For a moment, until I started worrying, and needing to wrestle back some fake semblance of control. I need to watch, I thought, so I can tell him to slow down, or watch if he is getting to close to the edge. I need to control. Lord help me. Lord help us. Mountains can be terrifying or beautiful. Knowing what I know now—spoiler alert- we survived!! I wish I could go back and just enjoy the scenery more, release my white knuckled grasp of the door handle and stop nagging my poor husband. Because there is so much we cannot control. So much we cannot see. Like ANY of the future. I pray that we would release our grasp, our need to control. And trust. Trust that the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore! And truly it’s the forevermore that matters most! What do you need to release your grasp on?