Lifting Eyes

Psalm 121
David A. Davis
November 6, 2016

I lift mine eyes to the hills—from whence does my help come? I lift my eyes to the mountains, to the stunning blue sky, to the beautiful stars at night, to an orange fall sunset. From where will my help come. The help comes doesn’t come from the mountains or the blue sky or the stars at night or from the sunset. The help comes from the God who made all that. Lifting eyes. I lift my eyes to sing a song of praise and to pray and to listen to something beautiful and to remember good things. I lift my eyes in gratitude and in wonder. My help, my strength, my peace, it comes from the God who created me, who gave me life, who fills that God-shaped vacuum deep within that can’t be filled by anything else, anyone else. My help comes from the God who loves me.

I lift my eyes. I lift my eyes in praise and thanksgiving. I lift my eyes when I’m struggling, feeling so unsure, anxious, hoping for a better day. I lift my eyes then too. I lift my eyes when I’m really worried about someone I love, when I’m not sure my heart has room for one more burden, when I find myself listening to a hurting friend, when weariness gets the best of me. Sometimes I lift my eyes in exasperation, frustration, anger. Or when my feelings are hurt, or I know I’ve hurt someone else’s. When things in the world seem out of control, when another tragedy comes near or far, when it’s just another day’s news and I sort of feel like shouting or shaking a fist or heaving the heaviest of sight, I lift my eyes.

It’s not a directional cue. It’s a spiritual truth. Lifting eyes. Looking to the Holy One who created the heavens and the earth. The Creator whose presence shall carry me all of my days. The Great God Almighty who knows me by name, counts the hairs on my head, and is there for every breath I take. The Everlasting God of the universe shall take me from the womb to the grave and to an everlasting rest nestled into God’s light, God’s heart, God’s being. My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth.

The Lord will not let your foot be moved. God is going to help you stay the course, follow the path, keep pressing on. It’s not that you won’t slip or stumble along the way. In life or in faith, small ways and big ways, stumbling comes with the territory. Not letting your foot be moved; it’s not some guarantee of a perfect graceful “knees- never- stained runway kind of walk in life. Hardly. No it’s more like this: your feet have been firmly planted in the foundation of God’s grace and mercy and care. Nothing and no one can ever change that. Like the psalmist who affirms that there is nowhere to go to flee God’s presence. Like the Apostle Paul who proclaims that nothing can separate us from the love of God made known in Christ Jesus. Like the Risen Jesus announcing “I will be with you always.” God will not let you be torn away from reach of God’s forgiveness and the touch of God’s comfort and the mark of life in God’s name. God will not let your foot be moved.

The One who keeps you, the one who watches over you is the God of Abraham and Sarah, Jacob and Esau, Rachel and Leah, the God of David and Jeremiah and Isaiah Micah and Amos and Ruth and Esther and Mary and Elizabeth and Joseph and the twelve and Paul and Timothy and the woman at the well and the man with the withered hand. The One who keeps you is the God of Jesus. The God of all that, of all of them, that same God watches over you. And God doesn’t sleep or blink or bat an eye or text while driving or get bored or forget. No, God will never forget you.

The Lord is your keeper. God watches over you. God holds you in the palm of God’s hand. God’s protection it is firm and sure. In the busiest, chaotic moment that comes in the heat of a day, God is with you. In the longest, darkest, loneliest time of night. God is with you. God is keeping you. Holding you. When you feel surrounded on all sides by all that the world is tossing at you; when there’s too much on your plate, too many plates in the air, not enough air to take a breath. When it feels like you’re the only one left, when it’s so dark you can’t even see your hand in front of your face, when it’s so frighteningly quiet that the pin dropping has an echo. God is with you. God works to make a way for you. God goes before you and after you. God intends abundant life for you. God comes all the way to you.

Our keeping in God, God’s watch over us, it’s a promise. The thing about a promise is you can’t just feel it, or better said, you probably can’t feel it all the time. Sort of like when someone says “I love you”. It’s not just something you feel. It’s something you carry with you. Something you have to be reminded about. Something that sometimes flies smack in the face of what seems real in the moment, in a season. Sometimes it like blowing a kiss to a toddler and saying “save it for later”. The Lord is your keeper. Save it for later. Remember when you need it most. Hold on to it for dear life. Hold on to the promise. Hold on to God. One day, one night, that might be all you have.

The Lord will keep you from all evil. Some say it this way, “The Lord will keep you from all harm.” Well, that’s just plain silly. That doesn’t make sense. That doesn’t seem true. Harm. Hurt. Pain. Brokenness. That God would keep you from all that. I wish. Who wouldn’t wish. Don’t we all wish God would keep us from harm. The Hebrew dictionary gives lots of options here: Evil. Bad. Displeasing. Wicked. Even Malignant. We know that’s not true, God. That you will keep us from all things malignant!

But evil? Keep us from evil, deliver us from evil. Maybe it’s more prayer than promise. God will protect you from evil, from the powers and principalities, from the cosmic powers of the present darkness. When the worldly beasts of greed and power and violence are on the run, only God can lift you up. When kingdoms totter and nations battle and terrorists strike and the earth shakes, only God can see you through. When bitterness and hatred and division are stoked and fueled and boiling over, it is only God who can make a way for you. When holy things, divinely inspired things, godly things like unity and peace and the common good are tattered beyond recognition, it is only God who reminds you of the narrow way of righteousness. It is God who keeps you. God will keep you all of your days.

Your birthday. Your first day of school. Your last day of work. The day you met your spouse. The day you buried your dad. The day of your surgery. The day you gave birth. The day you walked your daughter down the aisle. The first day you were single again. The day you lost that heartbreaker. That day weeks before you stopped drinking. The day he told you he loved you. The day she told you she was proud of you. The day you said “I do”. The day your baby was baptized. Graduation Day. Retirement Day. All Saints Day. Veterans Day. The Lords Day. Election Day.

God will keep you all of your days. God will keep your life because in life and in death, you belong to God. This promise, this prayer, it is that God will bless you and keep you, God will make God’s face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you, God will lift God’s countenance on you and give you peace today and tomorrow and Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday, day and night, all of your days, up to and through your death and into your life forever in God’s love, a life forever in God which is surely to come. Life in Christ forever more.

The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in, your comings and your goings, when you head out and when you head back, your ups and your downs, your mountaintops and your valleys, when your weeping and when your laughing, when your running and when your hardly walking, when you are resting and when you are giving it your all, when you are offering God praise and when your praying through clenched teeth, when your nestled in with God like that poor widow who put in all the living that she had and when you are wandering farther and farther away, so far away that lost sheep doesn’t begin to describe it, when you are confident tomorrow will be a better day and when you pretty much pull the covers over your head and say “No, not another one”, when you’re turned to face the world and when your running back for an unconditional embrace. Your comings and goings. Going and coming, end and beginning. God will keep you always. Forever. Ever. Forever.

I lift up my eyes to the hills—from where will my help come?

My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth!

© 2016 Nassau Presbyterian Church
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