God gave me a powerful Psalm this morning.
It wasn't the first time I had been given this text, and as I heard the familiar words playing themselves out in my mind, my thoughts went back to that day, over 40 years ago, when God first spoke to me through this Psalm...
I was in Grade 12, and as an elective, I had taken Wilderness Survival. One of the course requirements was a survival trip -- a trip into the wilderness with nothing but a basic First Aid kit, a coat, a compass, a small pot for boiling water, a firestarter kit, and some fishing line, -- and one of the requirements of the survival trip was to spend one night solo.
And so it was that I found myself all alone, curled around a small fire built up against the face of a large rock, trying to stay warm through the very long hours of that seemingly-endless night. Needless to say, sleep didn't come. Every rustle of the breeze set my heart to beating faster, and it wasn't long before I was jumping at the tiniest sound.
As I was attending a Christian school, our instructor had also allowed us to take a small Bible along with us, and one of the requirements of the survival trip was to memorize Ps. 121. To date, there had always something more important to do on the trip -- things like scrounging for anything edible, etc. -- and I hadn't taken the time to even look up the text; but on that long, dark and cold night, I found myself pulling out my Bible and thumbing to Ps. 121:
"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." (Ps. 121 NIV)
I'm not sure if there would have been a better text for our instructor to ask us to memorize, for the words were exactly what my terrified mind needed to meditate upon. It was, perhaps, one of the first times in my life that I actually experienced the joy and peace that can come only from the presence of God.
As the years have passed, I have experienced God many more times. Nonetheless, I am still tempted to be afraid, to become stressed, to be anxious, each and every time things don't go the way I expect them to. This morning was no different, and when God reminded me of that text, it once again had its desired effect: I don't know what today or tomorrow will bring, but I know that the God of the universe holds me in the palm of His hand, and I have absolutely nothing to fear.
As I sit here typing this devotional, however, there is one phrase that jumps out at me like never before: "I lift up my eyes..."
All these years I've read into this psalm all the wonderful protection God gives me; yet I've always missed the message of the very first line, the message that says I have to do something: I have to lift up my eyes!
Is this why I so easily forget? Is this why the worries and stresses and fears continue to plague me day in and day out? Is it because I do not lift up my eyes?
Father God, help me to remember to "lift up my eyes" to You at ALL times! That is my responsibility, and when I do so, You are faithful to fulfill the rest of the promises: You will never leave me or forsake me; You will never slumber or sleep; You will be my shade and shelter, and no harm will come to me; You will watch over my life; and You will watch over my coming and going forever...Thank You, Father! In the mighty and powerful name of Jesus, Amen.
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.