Lent Reflection: Lift Up Your Eyes

nightsky

Living in Arizona, we are blessed with a law that doesn’t allow for neighborhoods to have street lights. There are merely lights on each house to see where they are. This was a stark difference for me having grown up in New Jersey where street lights were what told you when it was time to go inside in the summer time. The advantage of not having street lights is the AMAZING star show we enjoy every night. In our neighborhood (which is further from town), when it is a full moon, we can sit in our backyard with no lights on and see clearly as coyote and other desert animals begin their evening routine.

This is a beautiful picture of how God guides us. When we are in a dark time and don’t know the direction, we simply have to lift our eyes to Him, and He delights in guiding us! In the Psalm readings for today, there are several references to lifting our eyes for help. Psalm 121:1 says “I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from?”

Psalm 123:1 also says, “I lift up my eyes to you, to you who sit enthroned in heaven.” As I gave into the desert night sky, as I often do here, I am constantly amazed that the God who created all those stars, knows every hair on my head (Matthew 10:30). It reminds me that if He was able to create and name every one of those stars and galaxies and cause them to orbit one another with exact precision as to not destroy each other or us, then He certainly can handle my situation. And, He certainly can handle yours!

Matthew 5:3 says “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.” The reference here to being poor in spirit is compared to a beggar hunched down, looking up, asking for money or help. I have been blessed to never have to beg like this but the illustration is one of great humility. It is a last resort of many to become beggars and have to hunch down looking up to others for help. When I was in my early 20s, I went through a physical challenge in my life where I had difficulty walking and doing physical tasks. I had to constantly ask others for help. As a person with an independent personality, this was really hard and humbling for me. So often, we are like that with God. We are at our lowest point and being broken and all we have left is to lift our eyes and ask for His help.

Our Father, is such a loving Daddy (Abba) that He takes delight in us asking for help. He greatly enjoys His children looking to Him as their deliverer. I have three kids and two of them are only 2 1/2 years old. Their communication is just developing. I know when they want drinks or food but I DELIGHT when they come and ask me. My son, the youngest, will come close and illustrate that he needs help with his shoes. To me, it is so simple but to him, it requires total dependence on me, his mother. The same is true of our Heavenly Father. He so desires an intimate relationship with us that he takes joy in helping us through those dark times. He didn’t have to make the moon reflect the sun yet He chose to. I often think to remind us that He is our light no matter what the circumstance we go through.

Psalm 124:8 says, “Our help is in the name of the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” The one who made both the Heaven and the Earth is our help. It is so encouraging to me to know that when I feel there is no way out or I am totally overwhelmed, I can lift my eyes to the maker of heaven and earth and suddenly, I am redirected to WHO is my help. I don’t have to do it alone. In the darkness, there is a light guiding me through.

Today, my prayer for you is that you too know where your help comes from. That you are able to muster the strength to lift your eyes to the maker of heaven and earth. I also pray that your relationship with Him is one of such close intimacy that you can lift not only your eyes, but your hands to Him crying “Daddy, Daddy (Abba, Abba)” so that HE may lift you up. Your hope truly is in the Lord!

Psalm 125:1 “Those who trust in the Lord are like Mt.Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever.”

Lord, I lift my eyes to you today. Be my rescue, my strength. I ask that you make me unshakable like Mt. Zion. I surrender my will and my way to yours. Help me. Walk as my light through this dark time and graciously allow others to see that light as well.

Tricia Short, an original Jersey Girl, and her husband, Paul, live in Vail, Arizona where they are both pastors at a Vineyard church and oversee Unseen Ministries – A touring youth and young adult conference (unseenministries.com).She attended Delanco Camp as a teenager where the many encounters with the Lord there helped shaped the love relationship she has with the Him today. Image credit: By Andy from Pittsburgh, via Wikimedia Commons

Lent Reflection: Hurt, Harm & Hope

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“From Heaven the LORD looks down and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place he watches all who live on the earth- he who forms the hearts of all, who considers all they do…The eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine…We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you.” Psalm 33:13-15,18-19, 20-22

The shield is an image that invokes the idea that the one who holds it is in the midst of a battle. It is the thin piece of metal that protects one from getting harmed. It is not something we hide behind, yet it is there so that when we do face times of great peril and danger, we do not have to fear what the enemy may bring.

I’ve been meddling over this thought a lot these past few weeks, even more so when I heard a sermon about the difference between hurt and harm. Hurt implies pain. From loss, death, betrayal, loneliness, fear, depression, etc…. Harm on the other hand, is when we allow the darkness from this pain to permeate our hearts and cause irrevocable damage that affects our testimony, personhood, and the way we love others and allow them to love us. It is easy to confuse the two. It is even easier to think that the God we serve somehow causes harm to beset us.

The more pain I face, the more I see the opposite it true. The Bible promises that we will experience pain. It is our choice if we will allow this pain to merely hurt us or forever harm us. It is only this pain that brings us to our knees. It makes us long for a world that only our heart can recognize because at its very core it knows that we were made to be different than we are now- whole, at peace, perfect, and in a world that only knows how to love the way He loves us.

Until I am there, I know that He will protect me from letting hurt question His faithfulness and love for me. I know that He will not let harm beset me from famine. But I pray that He will keep me ever so slightly hungry that I don’t forget that He is the only One who will satisfy me fully with the Hope He has set before me.

Megan (Giberson) Benson has been involved at Delanco Camp as a camper, counselor, dean of women, teacher, and worship leader. She lives in Port Republic with her husband, Justin, and two daughters, Molly & Sadie. Image credit: By Bazmasta (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Lent Reflection: What’s in a name?

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One of the best songs that I learned in Uganda was the song “He Knows My Name.” It meant so much to me to know that God will go with me wherever I go and always know my name. It amazed me that I didn’t have to worry about the children in my classroom because HE knew their names! Every time I heard that song it brought me to tears, but overwhelmingly joyful and touched tears. My parents gave me the name of Elizabeth Jean before I was born, but decided after I had come into the world that I should be Jean Elizabeth. There were too many Elizabeths already.

Although in today’s society we might think that there are too many gods, there still remains just one God, and ONE GOD ALONE. He does however have many, many names. This is not to say that we can bow down to Sri Krishna and say that that is the one true God, because he’s not. One only has to look at Deuteronomy 6:4 to see that “The LORD our God, the LORD is one.” Isaiah 43:11 also confirms this fact.

However, it can get confusing. So I would like to pose the question to you: What do you call God? There are so many words to choose from and in all different languages. Some popular ones from ages of old are Abba, Elohim, Adonai, YHWH (not to be spoken of course), Jehovah Jireh, Alpha & Omega, and El Shaddai. A few of my favorite more common English ones are Bread of Life, Ancient of Days, Friend of Sinners, Good Shepherd, Rock, Prince of Peace, Teacher, and one of my personal favorites, I AM.

Say them slowly and let each one, different aspects of our most Holy God, soak into your soul.
Songs have always moved me, so I am going to throw another one out there for you to listen to: “I AM” by Nichole Nordeman. It shows us how we can relate to God through different names throughout our entire life. It doesn’t matter who we are, but who HE is!

When Jesus said the following in John 8:58, people wanted to kill him for proclaiming these words: “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was born, I am!” It was a bold statement, but the truth!

In Matthew 16 Jesus asked his followers “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” As Jesus then explains, this was not revealed to him by Jesus, but by his Father in heaven. God made his name clear down through the centuries many times and in many ways. Even when Jesus was being baptized, the Spirit of God descended on the Christ saying, “This is my Son, whom I love” (Matthew 3:16). Again and again throughout history God reveals himself in marvelous ways. But what does this mean for us?

His name has power. While on earth he did great things. But he told us that people who do things in God’s name will do even greater. How could that be? It’s HIS name that gives the power. Look at these verses:

“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it…But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all the things and remind you of everything I have said to you.” -John 14:12-14, 26

Those who think that there is a lack of miracles in the world today are closing their eyes to the wonders that God wants to perform. It’s up to us to listen and attend to what God wants us to do. If we use His name in a way that will advance His kingdom and reveal His glory, it will happen! We must trust in His holy name.

Too many times people throw around God’s name as if it were a small thing. People say “Oh my God” all the time without actually intending the comment for our heavenly Father. It’s wrong, it’s one of the 10 Commandments even: Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain. IT HAS POWER, and we should not think of it lightly.

May you be unafraid today to use the power of God’s name to help those around you, to bless, to heal, and to learn. Let us praise His holy name! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

“I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name forever and ever.” Ps. 145:1
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD.” Ps. 118:26

Jean Komline worked on staff at Delanco Camp as a horse wrangler, where she learned about World Gospel Mission and later served with them in Uganda for several years. Image credit: Greg Simmons, via CreationSwap