I lift up my eyes to the hills, from where will my help come?
I lift up my eyes, where is my help?
I’m looking up, I’m looking out! Where, where – where is my help?!
I’ve known these words from Psalm 121 for a long time. Sung them, read them, prayed them many times. How often in my prayers have I stopped at this first verse. Even when I know the answer lies in the next verse – still it is hard in the valleys of life to get past that first question and wonder if I am being heard.
But, oh how much I miss when I stop at that first verse. In one verse, I call out to the Lord. And with seven more verses the Lord gives back to me His promises. For that one verse of anguish and uncertainty, the Lord returns each unspoken petition with a promise. During our church’s summer season of Prayer and Petition and Psalm 121, I sought the comfort and assurance of verses 2-7 that are sometimes elusive.
I live in New Hampshire each summer. It is a good annual respite – a sabbatical of sorts – for this New Englander now living in the midwest. On my daily morning walks, as I prayed over Psalm 121, I looked up at the wild green hills and trees of Mt. Monadnock. In the shadow of those massive hills and trees, one could easily feel overwhelmed or insignificant and call out – where, where is my help? But with each step and each day, the words of Psalm 121 took root in my head and my heart with renewed confidence – my help comes from the Lord, my help comes from the Lord, my help comes from the Lord.
Even though Psalm 121 is the kind of descriptive poetry that I relate well to, I decided I needed to establish “ownership” of these words in a new way. By putting the prayer of Psalm 121 into my own words, and I was able let them indwell with a new articulated purpose.
I am the only one who will give you the help you need. I will not let you stumble or fall, but will help you persevere. I will protect you, take care of you.
I never stop watching out for you. You can sleep because I never sleep. I never even close my eyes. I am your defender, protector. I am your shelter from life’s challenges.
I am present; I am as close to you as your right hand – always by your side to defend and protect. I will protect you 24 hours a day from the harsh physical elements. When you forget to take care of yourself, I will not.
There is nothing too evil in this world that I cannot protect you from it. I will be the guardian over your whole life and I will keep you safe.
I will guard every moment of your life. When you are born and when you die. But also every morning when you wake up and go about your day. When you leave for school or come home from the office. When you go to the grocery store or come home from the soccer field. When you visit a friend in need, or when you come home from a doctor’s appointment. I will be there. Forever.
My prayer is daily, sometimes hourly. In the fall, back in the midwest, I may no longer have the hills as a physical reminder to lift my eyes. But the need to lift my focus out of myself is ever present. To look outward and upward and remember: My help, my help, my help – comes from the Lord, Savior and Keeper of my life. Amen.