Photo credit to http://www.birdingisfun.com
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
This morning I woke up to a dream, only, my dream was more like a scene than what you think of as a dream. I was standing in the grass. At first all you could see were my feet and the grass and the dirt I was standing in. But then it was as though I stood back from myself and looked and I saw not only the grass around my feet, but behind me was a corn field that had been harvested. And I stepped back further from myself and looked again and now I could see me standing in the grass and dirt, and the cornfield all harvested and beyond, all the way to the mountains and the sky in the distance. And I knew that today, I would be looking at things through a broader perspective.
So this is the image I woke up to this morning and this verse rang out in my mind, “I will lift up my eyes unto the hills, from where my help comes from.” (Psalm 121:1) So, why is it a good thing to lift up my eyes to the hills? And why does my help come from the hills? And why does my perspective matter? And what does that have to do with all things working together for my good? And why is it true only for those who love God? And why is it true only for those who have been called by God and answered that call according to His purpose?
The Psalmist in Psalm 25:1 declares, “To You, O LORD, I lift up my soul.” “To You, God, I “nasa” my soul.” What does that mean? Can I lift up my soul separate from who I am? Or when I lift up my soul to the Lord as the Psalmist, am I giving all of me? Is this an offering back to the Lord all He has created in me? Let’s take in a perspective that Skip Moen shares here. “In Hebrew thought, you are nephesh, the whole homogenized uniqueness that makes you the person you are. You are who you are because you are animated by divine breath and there is no separating you and this power of vitalization while you live. Considering this, the psalmist makes a startling declaration. To lift up one’s nephesh is essentially to offer one’s very life. But how unusual. The offer is made to the very One who provides that life. It is an offer to return something borrowed. This is sacrificial suicide.” O.K. So I am giving back to You, Lord, what You have already given me. You made me and gave me life and I give it back to You. I suppose the only actual thing I own is sin. But when I give You back what I borrowed, You even lift up that sin with it, cancel the debt, and continue my life in Your grace.
Now, I need to take that into perspective with the Psalm about lifting my eyes up unto the hills. That’s where my help comes from. Who is my help? You are, Lord. And I look unto the hills because I look unto You. But this is the thing about mountains and hills, sometimes we become distracted by them because of our perspective. In all truth, You alone are to be the High and Lifted Up One. But often, we set other things up on the mountain tops and worship them. But what was lifted up before the Israelites when the snake bites came? What did Moses lift up? What were the people to lift their eyes unto? Wasn’t that serpent on the rod a symbol of You, Jesus? Weren’t they being called to focus on Your promise, to focus their trust on You? Is it any different for me today?
I lift up my eyes unto the hills. That’s where my help comes from. I lift up my eyes, my eyes which direct where my body and my mind and thoughts go. I lift up my eyes and my “nephesh,” my whole being and soul and person, and I look to You in expectation and in commitment. I look to the cross upon which You were lifted up for my sake and the sake of every person ever. I look on You upon that cross because I’ve been bitten by the lethal bite of Sin. There is no other remedy for me. Unless I look up to You, unless I turn to You with all of my being, unless I trust in You with all my philosophy, all my theology, all my lifeology, with every part of me, I will not and I cannot live.
Now, where does my help come from? Well, sometimes we choose our own hills, with our own philosophies and theologies. But what if I only let You, Lord, stand on the hill and look to You alone for my help? What is help? This is the Hebrew word “ezer.” And the funny thing here is that it goes back and is used for the woman’s role in the family. But it paints an even bigger picture. Skip Moen shares, “Christ serves the Church by providing it with life and the Church serves Christ by enabling His purposes and goals to become a reality in this world and the next. “ Keep listening to hear how this “ezer” idea works. Oh, and by the way, isn’t that something how this ties in with Romans 8:28?
Now this may seem to be a jump, but we’re going to go back to Genesis and look at man and woman and their roles. Just bear with me here. “Apply that same logic to the Genesis account. The man is the source of the woman (from ish comes ishshah). But the man is not the authority over the woman (that doesn’t occur until the man makes it so after the Fall). The man is mutually submitted to the woman in order that they may both fulfill the purposes of God. But just like the Church, the woman exists because of the man and her role is to insure that the goals and purposes of the man become reality. She serves him, not as slave or domestic attendant, but as the one who is committed to do whatever is necessary to bring about God’s will in his life. And as Hegg says, if this goal is eclipsed by anything else, no matter how important, the real purpose of her existence will be diminished.” (Skip Moen) I can’t help but think about that. My husband’s goal is to help me fulfill the purposes of God. My goal is to help my husband fulfill the purposes of God. We are to be mutually committed to do whatever is necessary to bring about God’s will in each other’s lives. And this is the picture for every believer. This is the picture for what we call the Church. Our goal is to lift You, Lord, up over every hill and to do whatever is necessary to bring about Your will in our lives and the lives around us. This is how the family of God works. And if this is not our perspective, then it’s not working God’s way.
So, now that I know that, I can jump up to Romans 8:28. When You, Lord, are lifted up in my life above everything, above every false idea or false theology or selfish desire, then I can know Your purposes and plan for me and those around me. Then I can know that whether I am standing in the dirt or the flood or the grass or on parched land, that You are still working all things for my good in You. I can take my eyes off of my situation and look up unto the hill where I have lifted You up to Your proper place. And when I look at things Your way, through Your perspective, I can take the focus off of me and work towards enabling and building up those around me in You and Your purposes. I can help lead them to see the bigger picture of You. But I won’t look up beyond my immediate situation if I don’t really love You, because honest to goodness love requires a response. It requires action. You don’t really love if You don’t act upon that love. Empathy and true compassion are two totally different creatures. Remember, God SO LOVED the world, that He acted upon it. He GAVE His ONLY SON. What about me? Do I really love You? Do I really love others? Am I answering Your call with the actions You require? Am I fulfilling Your purpose in me and enabling them to fulfill Your purpose in them?
I can fill a shoebox, or give a volleyball, or share the Gospel through balloons, but am I really investing myself in the life of another? Am I investing myself in You in them? “We are to be mutually committed to do whatever is necessary to bring about God’s will in each other’s lives.” How deeply am I committed? Do I SO LOVE God? Do I SO LOVE anyone else? Am I acting upon it? What would I really give? How much would I be willing for it to cost me? And I wonder if what I’ve been calling love, is really love at all. Because if it doesn’t match up to Your love, it’s not love at all. I suppose it all boils down to perspective. But it’s not my perspective that matters. Unless my perspective lines up fully with Yours, I’m still stuck staring at my feet and I miss the greatest treasure of all– participating in Your purposes in the most beautifully and powerfully committed family ever—the TRUE FAMILY OF GOD. Lord, give me a right perspective, YOURS!