Sunday, November 6, 2016

Ascending the Mountain

Our family loves to hike along the Blue Ridge Parkway.  When the leaves start to turn colors, we head up to the hills of North Carolina to experience the beauty of nature.  We load up the car with food and water and eagerly start our journey.  The first part of the trip is the one we take every day to school,but a little over an hour into our journey the scenery begins to change.  Small rolling hills give way to bigger hills.  I eagerly scan the horizon and at each curve, I hope to catch a site of the mountains.  As we get closer and closer to our destination,brief glimpses of mountains in the distance turn into majestic panoramas. It makes me so happy.  The mountains are one of my favorite places in the world. 

As our gift from God minivan climbed up the ever increasing hills, a favorite passage from Psalms went through my mind. 
Psalm 121:1-2  "I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth."

I love this whole chapter. It is a Psalm of Ascents meant to be recited as worshipers were walking to Jerusalem. It is so comforting and beautiful- a great reminder that we can trust God, our Creator to take care of us and our loved ones.  

As much as I love this chapter, I have often skipped the deeper meaning of the first line.  When the author wrote, "I lift up my eyes to be mountains- where does my help come from?" He wasn't marveling at God's creation, he was contrasting the idolatry that took place on "high places" at the tops of the mountains and the false help that was sought from idols to the help that God the Creator of heaven and earth provided. I recently realized that when I read this passage I need to stop and make sure I haven't started looking to "high places" like money, friends, Google, knowledge and strength to be my help and protection instead of God. 

False gods may provide a temporary sense of peace but they cannot give us what we need. In contrast, God is our help. He knows what he is doing... He made the heavens and the earth.  When I study scripture, I will look up words at BlueLetterBible.org.   The word translated Maker in this passage is the same word used in Genesis 1 when God "made" the firmament, the sun and moon, the animals and people.  If God made everything, nothing is too hard for him. 

After we get to the Blue Ridge Mountains, our ultimate destination is a the Rough Ridge trail. This trail has huge boulders, a creek to cross and beautiful panoramas.  As I was climbing up the steep hills and narrow paths, Psalm 121:3 definitely applied. 
"He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;"
About halfway down the trail, I hit a slippery spot and had to grab a tree to keep from falling. God will protect us in tough and challenging situations. Am I reaching out to God when things get tough? Am I looking to God for protection?  Am I trying to find security in areas other than God?   

We can trust that God will take care of us and our loved ones. "indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night."  
Don't you love that The Lord is watching over us and our loved ones day and night.   I have a friend who lived in a Buddhist country and she mentioned to me that the reason Buddhists Temples had gongs was to wake up Buddha.   Our Lord doesn't sleep or slumber but is actively providing shade in the desert.  
If I am feeling the heat, have I stepped outside of the protective covering of the Lord?  Have I listened and been obedient?

"The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forever more."

Praying that you feel His protection, covering and provision wherever your journey takes you.  

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