NOTEworthy: April 5

This Week’s Music: April 5

“I Will Lift Mine Eyes”

By Jake Runestad

What a strange time it is.  As a practicing extrovert prone to get stir-crazy, it has been a very challenging couple weeks for me, cooped up in an apartment, not allowed to go to a coffee shop or a restaurant or even just be around people!

It’s given me a lot of time to think about the places my mind wanders to when unstimulated.  Oftentimes, I find myself playing a fun little guessing game with myself that I like to call “Hungry or Bored?” in which I have to figure out if I really do need food, or if I just can’t think of anything better to do.  This game usually leads into another fun game I like to call, “Staring blankly into the pantry.” Nobody ever wins that game. In a deeper sense, I’ve become more aware of my tendency to look around me for answers.  I look at the news to try to find answers, I look at social media to see how friends are altering their daily lives, I look at a TV screen to make me forget what I learned on the news – my eyes flit from answer to answer.  Lowercase a. It’s a bit silly that I look around for all these answers, because the truth of it is those people are looking around them for answers too, so together we just create this self-involved perpetual motion machine of answers.  Lowercase a. If only I would just look up. There is such a beautiful multitude of Christian imagery dealing with the height of things.  In the Apostles’ Creed, we weekly say, “he descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven,” in Isaiah 55:9, we are told “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  Clearly, the image of heaven and God as above us is significant.  The simplest way to see that is a hierarchy.  In the hierarchy of creation, the creator is above the creation; in the hierarchy of goodness, God is perfect and we are not.  I grew up interpreting these passages as a way to “put us in our place” in terms of authority, but I think there is a more physical, more human element of that height, though, which is explored in this text and this beautiful piece by Jake Runestad.

When we lift our eyes, the worries and business of our life move to the peripheral.  I think of when I walk on the greenway, and how simple and thoughtless an action it is for me to just look where I walk.  Birds and trees and Crabtree Creek around me and I choose to watch my feet hit the ground, as I, caught up in some thought, ignore the world and sky around me.  In this text from Psalm 121, David speaks of lifting his eyes to the hills. It’s interesting to me that he looks to the hills here, not the sky. There is such a strong cultural imagery of heaven being in the sky and the clouds, that when I reread this text, I found the fact that he was only looking up to the hills a bit….underwhelming.  Crane your neck a little more, David! There are higher things to look at! You couldn’t even find a Mountain?!

However, I think that may be the point that I missed.  He looks to hills. He looks to the hills because they were the grandest thing he could comprehend where he was at that moment.  The point is not that we crane our necks as high as we can to find the grandest truth or glorify God in the highest manner possible. The point is that we find the greatest glory we can see, touch, and feel;  that we lift our eyes from our own plodding feet and recognize the beauty and the Answer already around us and above us. Capital A.