Reading 20—Look up. Look down. Look all around… This beloved psalm doesn’t begin with a declaration about the Lord as Shepherd. Instead, with eyes raised towards places up high, the psalmist asks a question as old as humankind: from where will my help come?
How many times throughout history have eyes turned heavenward and posed that ancient question? There’s no age requirement: it’s as readily asked by kids as by adults. Nor is size a factor: it’s equally at home in lone individuals and nations. Why does it endure?
Regardless of which way we turn, we encounter news steeped in human-forged acts of violence, tragedies wrought by natural forces; strife and discord rising from myriad us-them differences too many us-es or thems deem irreconcilable, intolerable. On our home-fronts lurk illnesses and surgeries, financial struggles, employment stresses… Epochs pass and still we’re under grim shadows of the same fears that haunted our forebears and our psalmist today.
Yet, even in the murkiness of the grim shadows, there is neither hesitation nor doubt in the voice that answers. Whether the voice is a priest’s, a companion’s, or the question-asker’s inner dialogue, the helper’s identity is the same: it’s the Lord, the one who made heaven and earth.
The maker of all that has ever been, is, and will be, is your helpmate! The guardian of all of Israel is your guardian. The One who assures your footsteps and your pathway; who shades you from scorching sun and beguiling moon; who protects you from evil and holds closely your very soul.
The Lord, who fashioned and deemed ‘good’ everything around you, also fashioned you and deems you ‘very good.’ You’re worthy of your Lord’s love and guardianship and protection. What might that look like? How might you discern it?
For one young couple on the journey to being first-time parents, it looked like this: driving home after a great 26-week check-up, some water trickling from mom-to-be signaled something awry. A whirlwind ensued: hospitals, nurses, doctors, needles, ultrasounds, ambulance and crew, and tests, tests, tests. Mom, Dad, and babies are okay and at the hospital until the babies come. The Lord, their helper, sent aid in many forms in the whirlwind: hospitals, nurses, doctors, first-responders, researchers, scientists, praying folks, visitors.
I lift up my eyes: from where will my help come? Bringing my eyes down, looking around, I see the Lord all around me, especially in the everyday saints I meet.
When you reflect upon challenging times in your life, where do you see your Lord at work helping you?
Who are your everyday saints? Do they know that’s how you see them?
Pastor David Drysdale: I am privileged to serve the wonderful folks gathered as Zion, Hickory. I am also the personal chef and binge-watching wingman to my beloved wife Judy, bonus-Dad to seminarian son Joshua, and barely adequate masseuse and slave of our feline master, Indy. I have a rich interior life where I often have visions of shadow-casting teeny flies fresh from my tying vise to massive trout in the waters of my home state of Maine. In those visions I’m usually daydreaming of brewing stunning beers that make angels weep. Then the Batphone rings…