Looking Up

Star GazingYou have heard it said, “When you’re at the bottom, all you can do is look up.” I have only recently realized that there may be an alternate truth coinciding with this one. When we find ourselves, along the sways of life, with some measure of altitude, it becomes our natural inclination to look down. We look down on those who have less than we do as if they are too lazy to acquire more. We look down on those who don’t understand as if they are too ignorant to see the obvious. We look down on those who are sorrowful as if they should let it go already. And, perhaps worst of all, we look down on those who cling to faith – this condescending view comes in many forms: At times it is spiritual in nature as we call on others to put action to their faith or to fulfill their calling to be better stewards. At other times we despise their use of faith as a crutch. We ridicule their weakness. As was done by the Pharisees, we may even thank God that we are not as they are with an undertone of masked humility. Though we will never reach an elevated position, in this life or the next, where there is not room enough to look up, we pridefully choose much too often to turn our eyes downward. The Bible tells us that “pride cometh before a fall”. This sentiment is held by many traditions, both religious based and otherwise. Shakespeare’s Hamlet is a tragedy of hubris. Many lives are brought to ruins as a result of this same indulgence in proudful eyes cast downward. Not cast down with heads hung low in genuine empathy, but cast down as if that somehow lifts us even higher. The fact that we are prone to do this is a sign that our current position is still somewhat unfulfilling. The tradition of my personal convictions has led me to believe that “pride cometh before a fall” represents punishment. I no longer believe this to be true. I am coming to understand this principle to be a sovereign gift. For no matter our position in life, true joy and peace comes only from above. And whatever filter God must present in order to turn my eyes upward is ultimately for my own good. Regardless of my current circumstances, a lifted gaze provides more of what the core of my soul craves than anything else I can set my sights on. I am beginning to understand that the greatest and most sustainable achievements of life come not as the result of my efforts, but through restful stargazing. Resting in the God who holds it all. In Psalm 121:1 of the KJV, David says, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.” More recent translations have turned the second part of this verse into a question. However, I believe the KJV may have had it right as David is making a declaration of truth having come to an understanding of what I am now seeing – I will now look up, because that is the only true security to be found.

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