I lift my Eyes

David Ruis, Jun 7, 2023, 7:15 PM
David Ruis National Director

שִׁיר חַמַּעֲלוֹת
Songs of Ascent :: Pilgrim Songs

We often use the language of "journey" in the way we unpack our understanding of faith and service within our Vineyard context. Another thing we often say is "step by step." Psalms 120-134 were songs sung when either ascending the steps on the way to worship at the Temple or those sung along the trek to Jerusalem. One of our most well known and lasting Vineyard songs was penned by Brian Doerksen in 1990 out of one of these Psalms, "I Lift My Eyes Up." It is Psalm 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.

I am struck by the "need" along my own journey, and indeed I would say our communal moment in the Vineyard and even perhaps the Universal Church, to "lift up our eyes" to where our help comes from.

One of the disarming things about the imagery here is that the mountains are not our source of help or strength. In fact, as secure and strong as they may seem, they may actually be the very thing that is hemming us in. Certainty. That which seems unshakable and unmoveable. The things it appears we can put our trust in, whether they be religious, economic, political or otherwise may be hindering the sight that faith requires to look beyond "the mountains that surround Jerusalem" to the very One who created it all in the first place.

The Creator. The Maker of Heaven and Earth. The One who is at work even now making all things new and guiding us as a Good Shepherd to a time and place where all will be made right. New. Clean. Free. Beautiful.

"Look! God's dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 'He will wipe every tear from their eyes.There will be no more death' or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."
(Revelation 21:3-4)

We are on ascent. We are pilgrims.

By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise.For he was looking forward to the city with foundations,whose architect and builder is God ... All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth."
(Hebrews 11:9-10,13)

We went through a season where the rhetoric was "too much 'not yet' not enough 'now'". I get it. For real. We long for the inbreaking kingdom realities to release healing and sanity on the earth. As it is in heaven. We long for the inbreaking kingdom realities to release provision and stability in our lives. As it is in heaven. Yet it seems that when we lose the larger story, the arch of it all, we actually lose faith and begin grasping. Clinging. Demanding. Our prayers become anxious proclamations and declarations, rather than a deep lean into trust that allows us to see "what the Father is doing" now on our way to the what is yet to come.

The second coming of Jesus and the consummation of His Kingdom is not the consolation prize. Yet I find in our attitudes and posturing in prayer it so often feels like that. I think it's important that we turn this around. Without losing our anticipation and expectation of Kingdom breakthroughs in our current story, our eyes still must be lifted beyond the hills to the One.

"Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing."
(2 Timothy 4:8)

Marantha! Come Lord Jesus.

Step by step.