Tuesday, January 02, 2018
Psalms 121:1 – 8 I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber; 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. 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 forevermore.
Less of me and more of Christ.
As I begin a new year, that is my highest goal. It will be hard. I have a natural bent toward self-sufficiency. I trust me. I believe it’s easy for all of us to depend on self first, but especially men driven by the macho mentality like me.
I can handle it!
I’ll take care of it!
I’ll make it happen!
I’ll fix it!
These are all standard responses to the everyday situations and events that march us into emotional valleys, far from our preferred mountaintop lifestyles. But sometimes the valley we are in leaves us with no hope of escape. Everywhere we look we see nothing but hills, and we’re too tired to climb them.
Today’s Psalm is just the reminder I need to begin this new year of less of me and more of Christ. There will be days when all we can see are hills, and we have no hope of help. There will be many moments of trying to resolve the circumstances of life according to my own experience, strength, and resources. There will be moments when I am overwhelmed by it all and want to cave in, and rather than climb up the hill I would be content to slip into a cave in the hill and hide.
But the Psalmist reminds me that if I will simply look up to the hills, the Lord is there ready to help. When I stop trying, and start trusting, hope is restored and help is on the way.
The psalm begins with a declaration of who God is – He is the all-powerful Maker of heaven and earth. Certainly He is capable of handling whatever circumstance we are currently enduring.
Yet this all-powerful God comes along side of us and intimately cares for us. He will not let our foot slip as He leads us. He knows and has prepared the path. He has a plan. He is not tired. He will not make a mistake. He will not get distracted. There will be no accidents along the way.
Next, the Lord lets us know that He cares about our well-being. He watches over us to protect us from harm. Whether it be the potential harm from natural events or harm planned by enemies, God will protect us. Four times in this Psalm we are told that the Lord watches over us.
When I’m in a valley of any kind, it feels like I’m being watched. It feels like everybody on the hills is looking down at me. I respond with more and more self-condemnation because I assume that’s what everyone in the hills is thinking. But when the Lord watches over me it is with eyes of love and compassion. The Hebrew word used here in all four instances is shamar, which means to hedge about (as with thorns), that is, guard; generally to protect, attend to, etc. When it appears that people are trying to make the valley worse, God steps in and builds a hedge of protection around us and guides us back to the hilltop.
God provides and protects. When all my physical eyes can see are unclimbable hills, my spiritual eyes are opened to see the Helper of my soul. He knows what I’ve gone into and what I’m trying to come out of. He watches over my life. He is in control.
The valleys are necessary to teach us to trust Him. They teach us to be helpless, and it’s ok to be helpless. As the hills close in and become a formidable barrier to hope, look up into those hills. Your True Helper dwells there, and He is ready to help you when you let Him have control.
Less of me, and more of Christ.