Keep Looking Up!
July 29, 2021
My husband’s grandfather was a godly man, an example to us. He had a saying: “Keep looking up!” I’ve often found this advice to be tremendously helpful, with God repeatedly helping me when I look up to Him in the Word and prayer.
There are so many valuable postures for prayer—kneeling, being in a prayer closet, praying with “two or more,” prayer walks, etc. One that helps me when I feel anxious and am alone is to walk around my house and pray out loud, to speak words of praise, confession, petition, thanksgiving, and remembrance.
As I started to pray the other day about a situation that was creating anxiety for me, I noticed my glasses, which I don’t usually wear in the house as I’m nearsighted. But I grabbed them anyway, thinking, “You need to see to pray.”
As I walked into my living room praying, at the confession point of prayer, I was thinking of God’s gift of reaching out to save and forgive us, through His great love and mercy, through nothing of our own merit. I looked up and saw a bright cross in the sky on top of a distant steeple. I’ve lived in my house 13 years and never seen this. Admittedly, I’m usually looking East for the sunrise and don’t often even look out that window. But because my glasses were on and the particular lighting of the day, I could see it clearly. Given where I was in the prayer and in my thoughts, looking up and seeing that cross was quite moving.
This caused me to reflect on what we might find if we keep our eyes focused upward, instead of around us on things like our circumstances, various distractions, social media, and the news. Those things, while they can have some benefit, won’t give us the same peace. What would we discover?
Several years ago, I noticed while studying Genesis the repeated phrase, “lifted his eyes and looked” or “I lifted my eyes and saw.”
- In Genesis 18:2 “Abraham lifted his eyes and looked” when three men stood at his tent door, one maybe being the LORD, to tell him that he and Sarah would have a child in their old age.
- When Abraham had Isaac on the altar, after God stopped him from sacrificing Isaac, it says in Genesis 22:13-14, “Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns.”
- In Genesis 24:63-64, Isaac went out to meditate in the field and “lifted his eyes and looked”; Rebekah also “lifted her eyes” as God had provided a wife for Isaac.
- In Genesis 31:10, Jacob said, “I lifted my eyes and saw in a dream. . .” and in the dream, the Angel of God said to Jacob, “Lift your eyes now and see. . .” as God provided and increased Jacob’s herd. God blessed Jacob as he called him to return to the land of his family.
Each time, it seems to indicate God’s provision.
The Greatness of God
This theme of looking up continues beyond Genesis and throughout the Bible.
- Isaiah 40:26 says, “Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name, by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing.” Looking up might also astound us with the greatness of God!
Help and Mercy
Two familiar texts in the Psalms of Ascent speak to this:
- “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1-2. In lifting up our eyes, we find His help!
- “To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens! Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maidservant to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till he has mercy upon us.” Psalm 123:1-2. We lift up our eyes to see His mercy.
In John 4:35, Jesus tells his disciples, “…lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.” Looking up might show us the needs around us.
I think of Peter in Matthew 14. Jesus approached the disciples by walking on the water toward their boat that was being tossed by the waves in the night. At Jesus’ command, Peter walked on the water toward Jesus, until he looked at the waves and began to sink. Peter needed to lift his eyes and keep them focused on Jesus, off of the wind and waves!
In John 17:1, Jesus “lifted up His eyes to heaven” when His hour had come. When the time had arrived that He came to this earth for—to do His Father’s will, to give His life for ours, to bring eternal life to those who believe on Jesus—Jesus lifted up His eyes to heaven.
Today, if we lift up our eyes:
- Could God have a provision for us that we might miss if we don’t look up?
- Could we behold the glory of God as we see things that we tend to take for granted in a different way?
- Could God give us His peace and help in times of suffering and difficulty?
- Could we discover new opportunities to point others to Jesus?
- Could we find freedom from sin that wants to entangle us and endurance to run the race before us?
- Could we better know and do our Father’s will as we read His Word and pray?
As we go through the daily routine, we don’t want to miss the ways He can transform our hearts and minds as we look up to Him. We want to lift our eyes and see! I pray we will all behold Him anew and catch a greater vision of our God. Keep looking up!
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