"Look up at the sky, there is a light, a beauty up there, that no shadow can touch." - J.R.R. Tolkien
My son and I have been doing a lot of hiking lately. It is our way to unwind and retreat, escaping from the noise and constant hustle for a while and unplug from the devices that seem to bind us in an unrelenting holding pattern.
Being immersed in the forest trees brings forth a unique nature-aroma that no other place can. It is expansive, fresh and earthy, a deep and rich exhale that other places lack. It sweeps out the lungs and the mind, and even starts on the cluttered and cobwebbed heart if you allow it.
On our latest trip, I was uptight and worried, and wrestling with a mangled variety of life's strangleholds. Work stress was on my brain, my husband and I were overly snarky to each other a little too often lately, and worst of all, I had recently lost a good friend to cancer. And, as if that all was not bad and plenty enough, my son was refusing to go to school every now and then as of late, and it was now becoming a pattern. Ugh.
I felt all tangled up, knotted in mind and body. Suddenly, I realized as I put one foot in front of the other, I was looking straight down - eyes steady on the path, carefully stepping over unruly tree roots and the scattered, half-buried stones making sure my feet kept steady and sure and unsurprised by nature's unexpected notes. My steps were clunky.
My cadence was measured, prudent and picky. I then feel something grey and heavy folding over my spirit. This beautiful journey had become yet another thing to get through, not what it actually was - a total treat to enjoy and indulge - a special outing with my wonderful son in God's gorgeous creation. I had let all of the worry overtake me and tie me up. I was not allowing for the wonder and sweetness to seep in and grow, only the bitter root.
Then, glancing back at my son - I notice with deep gratitude, that he is looking up. His eyes are grabbing eagerly at the sky and the tree-canopy overhead that offers him a completely opposite perspective to mine! His mouth upturned in a joyful smile. I lift my head, lifting my eyes and this in turn lifts my cloud!
Oh the gift of a changed viewpoint! An understanding and awakening has occurred - a new and cleared vision dawning offers such goodness and reminder of where my everlasting Hope and help are found:
"I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains? No, my strength comes from God, who made heaven, and earth, and mountains. He won’t let you stumble, your Guardian God won’t fall asleep." (MSG)
I realize in this moment, what I have known just under the surface all along. That I do not need to get through life's struggle-points and groaning pains alone and in my own feeble ability. God is there each step and each wringed-out moment, guiding me and holding me strong and steady.
I can look up and know that He will not allow me to trip and fall beyond His outstretched hand. When I remember this, each of life's twisting and unsure pathways seem not nearly as difficult to gauge. I can carry on, steady and sure, but only while looking up to the One that leads me through.
Question: Are you good at lifting your eyes up to God when trouble strikes? If not, will you try to do this with me? We will take it one day at a time friend, this is certainly a better way.