“Listen! What’s that?!” The child that was me craned her neck and shielded her eyes as she searched the sky for a passing airplane or helicopter… If conditions were right, I could follow the trails of high-flying jets or passenger planes as they painted a pattern through the air. I sometimes felt a little dizzy as I focused on the world above me.
There were so many things to discover while looking up, elusive songbirds in the trees, majestic mountain ranges as we traveled for a weekend of camping, and ever-changing cloud formations to catch the imagination. Church steeples all around rose above the surrounding buildings… proclaiming the hour, chiming music, or directing our eyes and thoughts to heaven above.
The Bible uses a lot of images about “looking up” and “going up.” That makes a lot of sense doesn’t it, as we think of God on high?! A favorite verse from the Book of Psalms, (a “Song of Ascents” that was sung as people went up to worship) says, I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.* Jesus looked up when praying to his Father, when blessing the loaves and fish, and when giving thanks.
When I look up into the sky by day or night or up into a majestic old tree, there is a sense of being a part of a great thing. As I look out and up at rolling mountain ranges, I am a small speck in God’s vastness. Think back or imagine yourself as a small child looking up at your parents, teachers, or others. The whole world takes on a different perspective!
I think too of how I can be focused on my own thoughts or schedule and I fail to look up and see others around me, to be aware of their needs, struggles, or celebrations. Sometimes I have allowed my self-focus to block out my awareness of others. In the book of Luke there is a story about a short man named Zacchaeus who had difficulty seeing too.* I think his difficulty involved more than his height! When Jesus came into into the town of Jericho, he looked up and saw Zacchaeus in a tree craning his neck to catch a glimpse of Jesus. Jesus saw more than the outside of Zacchaeus perched in that tree, didn’t he?! When Jesus offered him fellowship, Zacchaeus’ life took a dramatic turn. After he came down from that tree, he looked up and found Jesus who showed him a better way and who saw him as a person of value and worth.
My prayer for us is that we will look up and see God ever before us. May he open our eyes and widen our view so that we can see the worth and value of others, just as Jesus looked up and saw Zacchaeus. In so doing, perhaps we will begin to hear, above the roofs and the clamor of the world, the chiming of music… and to give and receive the gift of fellowship. Look up!
Psalm 121:1, Luke 19