Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Keeping Your Wits When Others Are Insane- Day 3

I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. 
He will not let your foot slip—

he who watches over you will not slumber; 
indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you— the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. Psalm 121

There is something about this Psalm that has always stirred my soul. I first started running longer distances in 1983 and 1984, just as my college football dream was quickly dying. Back then a long run was 2 miles.

Russ Polhemus, Glenn McWaters, Al Miller, Kent Johnson and Tom Caradine were mentors who pushed me to increase my physical endurance and fitness. Coach Miller and Coach Johnson pressed me in the weight room and I ran with both Russ and Tom. It took time to grow... learning to go 3, then 4, then 5 miles at a time. My longest run in those days was a run at Oak Mountain where you went 4 miles UP the mountain and then a record 4 miles down. My joints would ache for days if I tried that now.

But the summer of '84 or '85 was where this Psalm became my running inspiration. We didn't run with IPODS back then. SO I would take a section of this and repeat it over and over it in my mind.

I differ from Peterson in his analysis of this Psalm, and he may be more right exegetically (not sure of the Hebrew here)- but for me, it was 'as I look at the majesty of the mountains, I know where my help comes from'.

There was so much I didn't know then- I had no clue about the Psalms of Ascent- but I knew that this Psalm was fuel for my climb. As I said it on my way up a big hill, my legs burning, sweat pouring, every breath a struggle- this Psalm surged with energy in my inner man.

You can imagine when I heard the worship song "I Lift My Eyes Up"- how that only deepened my need and love for this message.

"I Lift My Eyes Up"

I lift my eyes up, unto the mountains
where does my help come from?
My help comes from You, maker of heaven
creator of the earth

oh how I need you Lord
You are my only hope
You're my only prayer

so I will wait for You
to come and rescue me
to come and give me life

So what is it about this Psalm that has this amazing impact? How can it help us in that quest:

The Goal:
I am marching uphill to the Holy Mountain of Zion with a song in my heart and joy in my spirit because I am loved by the King of the Universe. All I need to care for is this day's walk. May I be found obedient today. I start my day with a gospel help: "I am crucified with Christ" and I will end the day with a gospel hope: "There is therefore now no condemnation in Christ Jesus."

1) It is a strong declaration of trust in the Creator of all things to protect us.

When I first saw the Rocky Mountains, it literally took my breath away, and I experienced God's presence and power at the same time. So when I look up at the mountain of my climb- I am OK because my God made the mountain. Sure it looks impossible, but there is a bigger Helper behind the hurdle.
We are helped when we see God in the struggle, providentially in control, and not only able to help, He is WILLING to help.

2) It is a sweet promise. There are dangers, but the believer has His promise that they will not prevent us from getting home safe and secure.

He promises to watch me with diligence. He is active in keeping me secure.
He is a covering, at all times.
I will not get sun struck (not exhausted) or moon struck (not insane).
The security is there, but it is also there ALL the time.

3) It is a secure providence. God manages my journey, He plans it, He is the maestro over my daily comings and goings. The larger the sovereignty, the more peaceful the response to all of life.

But I'm about to share a secret.... the content of this Psalm is important, but it is not nearly the whole story of WHY it is such a powerful force.

I believe the rhythm and poetic devices in this Psalm act as a delivery system straight to the soul. That is why the musical form of this unleashes and highlights the message.


I have shared this quite a lot.... I even debated whether to add it or not, but I do think this may encourage someone reading this....

On Thursday, Dec. 9, 2010 I was called into a meeting and fired. No need to go into the why's or whether I agree with the decision or not. But unless you have been there (and I have met a lot of people since who have) it is so hard to describe the depth of the pain, shame, and disappointment.

I remember almost tasting the pain as I drove to my wife's office to tell her this life changing news. I was so concerned with what her reaction would be and what impact this would have on my children. My oldest daughter had just a week before committed to a very expensive college and we crunched the numbers and knew we would be living on little, but barely could make it. I was also filled with questions. This school that just fired me was where my daughter was going to graduate from in 5 months, what are we supposed to do with that? A joyous celebration was now dark and muddied.

It was a dark day. I had no clue what I was going to do. That day, a mountain appeared. It was larger than Everest in my mind. It was a mountain of fear and shame, regret and vanity. My guess is that this seems overly dramatic- but this pain was deeper in my soul than I had personally experienced before.

I woke up the next morning- a Friday. I was in my house all alone.

I sat at my computer and I clicked on I-Tunes and pressed a playlist called "Praise and Worship" and then I heard it... "I lift my eyes up..... to the mountains.... where does my help come from? My help comes from You..... Maker of heaven........ Creator of the Earth."

It was a supernatural moment of such force that my life and circumstances changed in a heartbeat.

God was on His throne... what could mere men do to me?

God had seen this coming.... He had me as spiritually strong at that moment as I had been in years.

God was going to see me through this.

Now is the cool part. I almost hate to write this, because it makes you realize what a spiritual wimp I must have been for God to come so quickly to my rescue. I know of many godly men and women who walk dark journeys for months and years after a knock down.

My rescue came in less that 12 hours.

I read the Bible. Made a list of people to call. Went for a run listening to that same playlist (which became my song list/routine for months) and when I got back I received a phone call.

It was a generous job offer. Not only an offer, but a request that I NOT take it immediately. This amazing man, with a heart of compassion I had not experienced in a very long time, told me to put his offer in my back pocket, pray, search out all the opportunities before me, and just let him know before March or April if I wanted it. He wanted me to come only if God led me to that decision.

I accepted his offer after many weeks of prayer and discussions of all of the offers with my family....

Now, every time I read Psalm 121 or hear the praise song, I get chills and sometimes I cry. These were not just words, this is HIS WORD of promise.

Do you see where this journey is headed?
We get kicked to the ground in a myriad of ways.
We want to lay there in defeat, but we get up.
We see the mountain and it looks overwhelming.

But GOD is bigger than that mountain and He made that mountain.

What is your mountain in these unprecedented days?
Fear of losing your job?
Missing out on some special moments?
Worried about a grandparent?

He will see you through.

And so you climb a little more up the path today. One day 2 day 6.. one day you slide back 3 or 4... then you get up and go 7 or 8!

My hope is that You get to experience Him in this way as well and keep your song for the climb handy!

By the way, I did take that job and I have been in that new place 9 years and 4 months to this day.

Amazing to see that God knew what He was doing. I still am walking through some things including forgiveness, but I find myself getting stronger and healthier day by day.

My wife and children have been very well cared for. Thank you Lord!

This is not to say that a mountain may appear again soon- but I know where my help comes from!

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