December 12, 2012

Looking Up

After doing a Bible search for the phrase “looked up” it seems that people didn’t do that very often, or at least they were looking down more than they were looking up. 

I can relate. When I go for a walk, I tend to look at the sidewalk more than the scenery. It could be related to fear of tripping or stepping on something, but metaphorically, it seems a symptom of a pessimistic nature.

Jesus was not like that. He may have been busy with whatever was in front of Him, but He also looked up, indicating His continual communication with God the Father.

And taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all. (Mark 6:41)

Logically, anyone who is about to feed five thousand men plus women and children is going to look up. Where else do resources come from to do a miracle? He did the same thing before opening the eyes of a blind man.

And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” (Mark 7:34)

Jesus’ most astonishing miracle was raising Lazarus from the tomb after the man had been dead for several days.

So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” (John 11:41–42)

On this occasion, Jesus looked up to show those around Him that He was relying on the power that God gave Him and all He had to do was ask for it. He sets an example for me, but is it that easy? 

Most Christians know that we can look up, pray looking up, do ministry looking up, yet sometimes our problems do not work out the way we hoped. At times heaven seems closed to our eyes and our pleas, as if God the Father is ignoring His children. Does that mean we stop looking up? The psalmist thought not. He knew that there is only one source of help that makes sense and can do whatever we ask. He looked up.

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1–2)

What I need to remember is that I cannot dictate to God the help that He gives. That is, God decides and determines how to answer my prayers. I may need to develop perseverance, thus spend days, even years, looking up. Yet when in dire straits, He also can give me a vision of Himself to sustain me, such as what happened to Stephen when he was about to die for his faith.

But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. (Acts 7:55)

Looking up, this man saw what he needed. His story reminds me of the beatitude that says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). If I can do anything that makes looking up a purely glorious experience, it is to keep my heart pure, which is both easy and complicated.

Lord, lately it seems that seeing You has been difficult because there is too many other things in my line of sight. Help my eyes and my heart get beyond my tendency to look down at life’s troubles. Please grant me the grace needed to look heavenward, focusing on You — the only source of the help that supplies whatever I need. 

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