How Far Do I Lift My Eyes?

1I lift my eyes to the mountains.
Where does my help come from?
2My help comes from YHWH,
The one who made heaven and earth. — Psalm 121:1-2

There was a bit of geography to prayer and to worship in ancient Canaan. People felt that if they could just get a little closer to the gods, it was more likely they would be heard. That’s why you read about “high places” in the Old Testament in reference to Canaanite worship. Lifting up one’s eyes to the hills (or mountains) was something that sounded pretty devout. It was like saying, “I’m going to church.”

That’s a good thing, isn’t it?

Well, yes and no. It’s a good thing to go to church, to get together with our fellow believers and worship. It’s a good thing to share our testimonies and to praise the Lord. It’s a good thing to share in our prayers for one another for whatever we need.

But there was a temptation in Canaan to look at the hills as the source of salvation. Not only that, one could look at what people had put on top of the hills, altars, shrines, idols, and so forth, as the source of salvation.

Recently there has been a race going on between different companies to make sub-orbital vehicles. What these vehicles do is take people to the edge of space, theoretically outside our atmosphere. You could say that they are reaching the sky.

Now think about the poor Canaanite going out to worship. He looks up at the sky. The gods are way up there. He knows that people have climbed the highest mountains around and haven’t reached heaven. But still he’s going to do his part. He’s going to climb up the nearest hill to make it easier for God to reach him.

It’s really pathetic, if you think of it. Considering the distance to be traveled, going to the top of a hill doesn’t really accomplish all that much.

But we are tempted to do the same thing. When we look for help, healing, or salvation, we really want to depend on what we can do. We try to do a little bit of good on our own and see if that will help. We are, like the Canaanites, looking to the hills.

The Israelites knew better. They knew that climbing hills didn’t really help. The psalmist looks at the hills and knows his help doesn’t come from there. It comes from the one who made the hills, and not only them, but all of heaven and earth.

When we come to God we always want to help him out. We think that if we do just the right stuff in the right way God will hear. But he doesn’t need you to climb to the top of a pitiful little hill. He can see you down in the valley. He doesn’t need you to perfect your prayers and get just the right words. He already knows what you want.

Lift up your eyes, but when you do, lift them all the way. Your help doesn’t come from little things down here. It comes from the creator of all.

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