Looking Up

Last month, I wrote about finding and taking Sabbath—the place and experience of “resting in the Lord”. Pastors are notorious for advising his or her folks to seek out Sabbath time and then ignoring Sabbath themselves. It’s a hypocrisy pastors share more or less discreetly. Well, Lynn and I spent some time away during October hiking/walking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in TN. A time of needed Sabbath! The Smokies are ancient in their geologic origin and contain an astonishing diversity of life. For example, there are salamander species indigenous to the Smokies that exist nowhere else on the planet. In short, these rugged mountains make a fascinating location for experiencing the Creation. Each step or turn in a trail can reveal some new wonder—but you have to be a keen observer!

Psalm 121 always comes to mind when we make our Smokies’ pilgrimages. Verses one and two kept focusing in my mind’s eye as we were walking on the mile-high “Flat Creek Trail” in the Heintooga/Balsam Mt. region of the GSMNP. So, I decided to stop and “lift up my eyes”. Lynn and I have visited the Smokies many times and we never fail to be impressed by the many vistas, but never I had just stopped and looked up. The sight of tree branches against the crystal blue sky was stunning! I have included a photo but photos never do such scenes the justice they deserve. Simply by lifting up my eyes, I had discovered a whole new way to enjoy God’s lovely Creation. I was blessed once more with a unique glory sighting. The power of Sabbath—here was my “help”!

Psalm 121 is known as one of the “Songs of Ascent” in the Psalter. It comprised one of many songs/psalms that the Jews would sing as they made their annual trips to Jerusalem to celebrate yearly religious festivals. Jerusalem sits atop ancient hills and, so, the journey to Zion involved “ascending.” Hence the name: “Psalm of Ascent”. The people knew that the journey to Jerusalem was worth the “ascent.” There they would worship Yahweh (the Lord), experience the Temple, and enjoy great fellowship along the way singing their songs of “Ascent”.

How have you experienced God differently lately in your faith’s walk? Have you bothered to “lift up your eyes” (or “down,” or “sideways,” or even “upside down”) to see what new thing God might have in store for you? How might we sing a “Song of Ascent” here at Perry? To what or whom are we “lifting up our eyes” these days?

Keep ascending, don’t become stale, and remember to “sing” along your “ascent”. You will find “help”.