"Look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near!"
Collecting acorns and chestnuts was all the rage when I was a child so walking home from school meant I always had my eyes focused on the ground. This resulted in me walking into people, bikes, or polls because I wasn’t looking where I was going. Now, as an adult, my gaze is often times still focused on the wrong things. I look at my circumstances and become fearful. I look at my sin and become discouraged. I look at my lists and calendars and become overwhelmed. I look to others for things only God can give me and end up disappointed.
If darkness becloud our evidences, obscure our path, and throw its gloom over our minds; if discouragement brood over our souls, or place stumbling-blocks in our way; if all our past experience appear questionable, and our acceptance with God at present doubtful, still let us not give way or yield to despondency — but let us "look up."
- James Smith
James Smith is right. I need to look up. Not down at my circumstances. And not within for some kind of self-direction. I need to look up and place my eyes on Jesus so that I do not lose my way, give up, stumble, or fall.
Look up for Grace
We all need God’s grace to cover our sins, strengthen our hands, and steady our faith. Grace speaks gently into our lives when we mess up and tells us that we are forgiven. We can stop beating ourselves up and trust that God will use all things for good. Grace reassures us that God’s word is true, that the Father’s love is constant, and that Jesus hears our prayers. True grace only comes from heaven and so we need to look to Jesus because he is our fountain of grace.
Look up for wisdom
My life is often filled with temptations and trials, as I am sure yours is too, and walking through them requires more than strength. We need wisdom. And true wisdom is found in the fear of the Lord (Prov. 1:7). If I fear God I will tread carefully, I will treat his word as a treasure, and I will seek him through prayer as I travel through life. Why? Because God is the source of our wisdom.
Look up for strength
My encouraging husband says I’m a strong woman. Ha! I don’t know about that, but I do know this. Whatever strength I have is not enough to continue on in this race. We do not have enough strength in us to finish well and we certainly will not find lasting strength in anything on earth. Therefore, I must look up. I must look to the Holy Spirit for power. The same Spirit of Power who raised Jesus from the dead dwells with me (Rom. 8:11) and He will provide me with the strength I need to keep going, to put one foot in front of the other when I feel weary, to keep me rejoicing when tragedy and hardships threaten to crush me.
Look up for encouragement
People have never been more depraved and the world has never been more filled with evil and devastation. The world tempts and lures, our hearts are two-faced and our flesh is weak. We need encouragement to continue fighting, to continue the race and to stand up for what is right, to teach our children diligently, to work hard on our marriages, and to be unwavering in the faith. Jesus himself is our encouragement when we look to him. He understands us better than we understand ourselves or knows our circumstances. He prays for us, he loves us unconditionally, and he comes to help us in our weakness (Heb 2:14-18). This should be a great encouragement for us. Not only that we are not alone, we have the Holy Spirit.
Look up for faith
My faith is real, but sometimes it is weak. Sometimes it seems to blossom, and other times it seems very small. It’s embarrassing how quickly I can fall apart and how fast I can forget all of God’s promises. It is especially for this reason that I must look up.
It doesn’t matter what we do we can’t muster up faith on our own. It is a gift from God and it continues to be a gift. So I look up, to Jesus, the “author and perfecter” of my faith. (Heb. 12:2)
As the new year makes its entrance we will face new struggles, new sins, and new temptations. There may be new illnesses, new tragedies, and new hardships waiting for us. We must live with one eye on earth and one eye towards heaven. We must do all things while looking at Jesus, because in him we find everything we need for life and godliness.
"In the morning, O Lord, You hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before You — and will look up!" Psalm 5:3