Mother decided we should memorize memory verses that summer. The days were long, even after all the chores were completed. Then I sat by the hour under the elm tree in the back yard creating a city of sand and twigs. I drove pretend cars through the sand-streets to ‘my house’. Time stood still. There was an absence of time. The sun was warm, I felt it filtering between the leaves as a gentle breeze blew through. Yes, it was an idyllic time. And then Mom decided we needed to exercise our minds. We were not excited to be ‘re-directed’ to another activity. I don’t remember Gene’s verse, but Jim’s verse was, ” For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 2:19)
That was 70 years ago. My mind goes on many journeys…and suddenly yesterday I recalled my verse, “I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? 2 My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1,2)
I lift up my eyes to the hills….what does that mean today? I know what it meant to my grandparents who lived on the farm all their lives. ‘I lift up my eyes’…and know what the overcast sky might bring, and how to plan for the day’s work. No need for weathermen (persons) in those days and their interesting patter used in weather forecasts. Listen sometime to hear, not the forecast, but the way they phrase and frame the weather that will be, is, and what happened yesterday.
Grandpa Suderman and Grandpa Siemens both looked up into the hills to make plans on the farm. Both Grandpas were men of God and had faith in the One who ‘made the heaven and earth’. Wait, this was central Kansas and western Oklahoma, no hills there. But they lifted UP their eyes.
Why? Have you ever stopped to watch a spectacular sunset or sunrise? Watched gentle or ferocious clouds making cloud-talk? Watched the trees bend in the wind? Observed the stars and the moon keep watch over the night and the sun watching over the day? Watched rain come in the wind, or pattering gently upon the earth? Watched the snow flakes, each one uniquely created, creating a clean slate on the earth? (Job 38:22 “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail)
That is the time to listen. This is how we recognize our mighty God. This is how we know his love. This is how we know his power. We look up.
It is more and more difficult to look up in today’s world. It seems that there are more and more impediments for clear vision to ‘lift up our eyes’. We are surrounded by trees and we miss a clear vision of the stars. We are surrounded by tall buildings that trap our vision. We are held hostage by the distractions and interruptions of technology. Our ears are filled to overflowing with never-ending music and news from television and radio.
Our hearts cry out for the simple times when there is no time, time for just being. I remember a time when my nephew and I sat on the back porch and watched the sunset after my Dad’s funeral service. We watched the sunset in silence. Finally I heard Matt’s voice – “I know where Grandpa is.” I asked where, and Matt replied, “Grandpa is in God’s pocket.” That imagery continues replay in my mind – the sunset, the loss of my Dad, and Matt’s comment.
This is what I feel when I take time to look up. The security and treasure of ‘being in God’s pocket’.
My prayer is that we not forget to lift up our eyes, that we know our Lord who made Heaven and Earth. The Message is restated in Psalm 121.
I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains?
No, my strength comes from God, who made heaven, and earth, and mountains. 3-4 He won’t let you stumble, your Guardian God won’t fall asleep. Not on your life! Israel’s Guardian will never doze or sleep. 5-6 God’s your Guardian, right at your side to protect you— Shielding you from sunstroke, sheltering you from moonstroke. 7-8 God guards you from every evil, he guards your very life. He guards you when you leave
and when you return, he guards you now, he guards you always.