Three Steps to Look Up!
“Look where you’re going!” My mother’s words echo in my memory. I had my share of scraped knees as a child, often because I did not look where I was going.
“Look where you’re going” is good advice. Whether hiking through a forest or setting budget goals to manage my finances, it helps to be aware of where I am and where I want to be. But sometimes I can be too focused on my goals.
When I’m hurting, I tend to concentrate on the pain or focus on what I think might bring relief.
Pool of Bethesda
I’m often like the invalid described in John’s gospel. This man sat in a crowd by a pool believed to have restorative powers. The disabled and infirm anxiously waited for the water to stir. Tradition held that when an angel moved the water, the first person in the pool would receive miraculous healing.
I can only imagine the intense focus of each person’s gaze. Watching for even the smallest ripple, waiting…yearning…desperate for relief.
But in order to watch the water, they needed to keep their gaze lowered. They were limited by their physical condition, but also limited by a perspective that always had them looking down. Until Jesus entered the picture.
“Do you want to get well?”(John 5:6). A simple question with an obvious answer. But this invalid was so focused on what he thought was the solution that he failed to recognize the One who was the real solution. Instead of answering the question, he provided excuses for why he could not be healed. “Sir…I have no one to help me…” (John 5:7).
Looking up is not just a physical posture, it’s a spiritual posture as well.
How often do we focus on our problems or pursue wrong choices for relief? We compound our suffering because we do not look up. We fail to include Jesus in the equation. Looking up may not immediately change our physical condition. It may not ever change our circumstances. But it will help us maintain an eternal perspective.
I’ve found that looking up requires me to:
- Be intentional about what I allow to consume my thoughts. The apostle Paul counseled: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8 NIV).
- Choose to trust God regardless of my circumstances. Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NIV).
- Repeat these two steps again and again! Practice may not make perfect, but it helps us establish God-honoring habits. Paul wrote, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:9 NIV).
“Look where you’re going!” was, indeed, good advice. I just need to remember the eternal component and view my circumstances from my heavenly Father’s perspective. For that, I really do need to keep looking up!
On what do you focus during your trials? Are you concentrated on what you think are the answers to your problems? Look up! Whether or not Jesus changes your physical situation, He will uphold you through it and give you an eternal perspective.