When I am on a jog I often find myself looking right in front of me. Whether it’s because I’m focusing on the path, getting lost in my thoughts, or just fixed on the next turn coming ahead, my sights are generally set on my near surroundings.
However, there are times when I will look up. It could be the flash of a bird, the pattern of a deer offsetting the foliage and brush, or it could be that my mind takes my eyes from what is directly in front of me to my surroundings. When I look up there’s a different feeling that washes over me.
When my eyes are lifted up…the surroundings fill out and take shape…the colors take on a different hue…the landscape envelopes me and my vision changes. I can’t stay looking up however, because there’s the real possibility of tripping on a stick, stepping on a snake (I’ve seen many on my greenbelt runs), or soaking my feet in a puddle.
Nevertheless, the differences of looking down and looking up are stark, and are yet complimentary. If I never look up, then I can’t see the spectrum and scope of the beauty around me. If I never look down, then I can’t see the dangers lurking beneath my feet. There is a harmony in the contrast and there is a shape in the exercise. It’s a lot like life.
Long ago, God’s people would make three trips to Jerusalem from all over Israel. As they went on their journey they had many obstacles to overcome, the least of which was protection of their land as they traveled. However, God’s promise to them as they made these trips was in fact that He would look after their land and belongings as they were faithful to embark upon their journey to the central place of sacrifice and worship–the temple in Jerusalem.
In the midst of their pilgrimage, they would sing songs to accompany them as they went. These songs were recorded in the Psalms and are designated as the Psalms of Ascent.
The second Psalm of Ascent is our focus here. It begins…
“I will raise my eyes to the mountains;
From where will my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.”
These travelers would raise their eyes…they would look to the mountains. Their ascent would be to the temple mount wherein sacrifice for their sins would occur. They would fix their eyes on the act of substitutionary atonement. This would comfort them on their journey and in their lives throughout the year. Their help…? From God. Their eyes…? Fixed on His work for them in restoration and reconciliation for their sins.
In the midst of cultural chaos and contemporary confusion, what’s the one thing mankind should be concerned with in their lives? His relationship with his Creator. Moreover, what’s the one thing that separates man from being in a relationship with his Creator? Sin. Thus, how does the Creator deal with sin? Substitutionary sacrifice.
How Does This Apply To Us Today?
Enter the gospel…the good news.
Here is where the human is to fix his gaze. He looks to the hills. The hill in Jerusalem. The hill of Calvary where Christ offered His life for ours. The substitutionary work of Christ for all mankind dealt with mankind’s sin eternally.
Transfer of trust from oneself–to be in a right relationship to God–to the person and work of Christ.
Everyday remembering Christ’s work and how it informs my love for my wife, my children, my co-workers, my boss, my neighbors, my enemies, and my ___________.
If God died on a hill for me, then I can look to the hill and remember His sacrifice, and then love others as He loved me.
The hill of Calvary is a reminder of my God’s love for me, and it informs and teaches me how to love others.
What hill are you not willing to climb for those in your sphere of influence?
Look to the hill of Calvary, remember Christ’s love for you, and then climb your hill and sing the song of ascent…
“I will raise my eyes to the mountains; from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”
God help us. Amen.