Look UP!

by | Feb 1, 2024 | Quit You Like Men, Times of Restoration

Today I was reminded of the importance of looking up. I was walking down the road near my house, studying the shadows on the ground and taking the opportunity to teach my four-year-old about shadows and how they are formed. We were guessing which object along the road made which shadow when a friend hailed me. He asked me if I had seen the bald eagle that had just glided over my head, only a few hundred feet off the ground. Alas, I had not. I had been studying the pavement and had missed the magnificent bird. Then, as I was staring regretfully into the empty sky, another eagle soared into view, and my gaze was rewarded with majesty. 

In spiritual and practical terms, where we look will determine what we end up seeing, and sight is what feeds our hearts, with (or starves them of) that most precious commodity: hope. The apostle Paul put it this way in his admonition to the church in Corinth: “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.” Given all the problems in the church in Corinth that Paul could have mentioned, he first said, “Watch.” The next obvious question is, “Watch what?” 

That question has never been more relevant than it is today.  With the advent of the internet and personal electronic devices, we have more “watching options” than any generation in history. As the world careens more and more out of control (someone recently described it as watching a car wreck happening in slow motion), I have found it to be tempting to try to grab some semblance of control by compulsively checking news sites. 

On the international scene, massive events seem to be happening almost daily.  As I write this, the IDF has entered Gaza City, and multiple Arab nations are either firing rockets or threatening to declare war. Anti-Semitism is emerging from multiple nations like some kind of terrible fungus coming out of the ground after a soaking rain. At home, the political world is as toxic as ever, and only growing more so as the Presidential candidates heat up their rhetoric. The pain of this fallen world can feel overwhelming. We look around and feel like Peter as he began to look at the wind and waves of Galilee. Before long, our faith and hope begin to feel heavy, and the water starts rising. 

But Jesus offers us a better way,  giving us direction about where to look when things begin to escalate toward the end. “When these things begin to come to pass, then look up, lift up your heads, your redemption draws near” (Luke 21:28). We live in a nation where we see more people looking down (usually at their phones) than ever before. As followers of Jesus, and the only people who have a real reason for hope, we should be doing the opposite. 

Look Up. How do we do this?

Look up in worship. 

As pastor John Ortberg put it, “I need to worship because without it I can forget that I have a Big God beside me and live in fear. I need to worship because without it I can forget His calling and begin to live in a spirit of self-preoccupation. I need to worship because without it I lose a sense of wonder and gratitude and plod through life with blinders on” (or for our purposes, we plod along with our heads down). What if we spent as much time in worshipping God (in prayer, music, or some other method) as we did in absorbing the news? I expect our courage would be a lot stronger if we did so. 

Look up in hope. 

Study the blue sky and the clouds today. Imagine the biggest cloud you see exploding into a vision of Jesus coming with His angels. I challenge you to spend 10 seconds when you first leave your house this morning in the practice of looking up and imagining what that Day will be like. Let your heart indulge in hope. 

Look up into God’s Word. 

I know that we typically look down to read a book, but the posture of “looking up” into God’s Word signifies that we are under the authority of God’s Truth. We see, we learn, and we humbly bring our wills into obedience under God’s Truth. In doing so, we are made strong against evil. These perilous times are full of false teaching and clever half-truths: prosperity Gospel, progressive Christianity, an insidious LGBTQ agenda, Marxism 2.0 in the guise of social justice and racial equality, the list goes on and on. God’s Word enables us to identify these clever lies and hold fast against them. As men, we must be immersing ourselves in truth in order to protect our families and churches against the lies that infuse the very air that we breathe. 

More than just a destroyer of cultural lies, however, God’s Word tells us the truth of what Jesus has already done at Calvary and the truth of what Jesus is going to do when He comes again. We need daily, balanced doses of “Cross Vision” (the love and grace of Calvary), as well as “Crown Vision” (the power and majesty of the coming Kingdom of Jesus). And both types of vision are available throughout the Bible. They are hinted at in the Old Testament and they burst into bright sight in the New Testament. Our hope needs both in order to flourish. Read such passages over and over, share them with others, pray them out to this world, write poems about them, draw pictures about them. We need to engage our minds and hearts with these truths, maybe in ways that we never have before. 

So as we “look around” at a world gone mad, let’s also remember to “look up” at the world to come. Refuse to be obsessed with shadows on the pavement when the eagles are soaring just overhead. We are citizens of another country, and no earthly power can take that citizenship away from us. Remember: The King has Come, and the King is Coming Again. ■  

—Father of six and headmaster of Fairwood Bible Institute, Dan is also assistant pastor at Fairwood Chapel.

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