Looking up requires effort, especially if you stare longer than a quick glance like when the Blue Angels flew over my family on a Pensacola, Florida beach the summer of 2021. The Pensacola Bay Area is the official home of the Blue Angels so it’s not uncommon to watch them fly at no cost. But looking up can create a neck strain especially after a few minutes.
Looking straight ahead in a horizontal fashion is easier. Consider children who experience the ocean for the very first time. What is more joyous? They stare in wonder at what is directly in front of them. Usually, they’re speechless, unable to process or verbally express what they see. So they just smile, dance around, and squeal with delight.
I cannot look at the ocean without thinking of the love of Creator God. From his book Ephesians, Paul wrote: “And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.” (3:18, NLT)
Oh, how quickly we forget that encouraging spiritual truth when situations that do not make sense hover over us and refuse to fly away. As of this writing, I’m experiencing my third round of COVID symptoms.
And what is our human, knee-jerk reaction when unexplained, unnecessary, (it seems) and uncertain circumstances hang around longer than they should? John Eldredge writes, “Our soul simply says, I’m done; I don’t want to do this anymore, as we collapse into discouragement, depression, or just blankness of soul. (Introduction to Resilient, X)
Today, we don’t want to have to look up for hope. We’d rather look straight ahead and keep moving, ignoring the question, “How is that working for you?” That four-letter, one syllable word called hope may not be a part of everyone’s vocabulary, but it carries a lot of promise for the future, our future.
Eldredge continues, “This is playing out in a “postpandemic” world: we only sort of want God; what we really want is for life to be good again.” (Resilient, pg. 11)
And if we don’t lean into hope, like leaning into the breeze from the ocean, we’re not gonna sail ahead, but remain stuck on a sandbar.
Besides the ocean reminding me of God’s love, the wind reminds me of the indwelling Holy Spirit. From his self-titled book, John, “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (3:8, NIV) Down here, we are never going to know what God or the Holy Spirit is up to, just like the disciples.
After Jesus’ resurrection some time had passed and one morning, as dawn was breaking, the person Jesus stood on a beach while seven of the disciples were fishing in the largest freshwater lake in Israel, commonly referred to as the Sea of Galilee. Although it’s not a sea, it is vast—64 square miles.
In John chapter 21 one of the disciples, Peter, returned to fishing as an act of surrender or despair. Emotionally, he was done. The disciple he thought he knew, Judas, committed suicide after betraying Jesus, and Peter himself had publicly denied Jesus. If that were not enough their leader was crucified in an excruciating manner and then resurrected. Now what? Peter was confused and unsure about the future so he returned to his old occupation of fishing, the comfort of familiarity or so he thought.
But when the disciples brought the boat to land, Jesus offered them breakfast, fish and bread sitting atop a charcoal fire. He valued relationships and he wanted Peter and the disciples to keep looking up. So he offered a meal, the perfect backdrop for a deep conversation during which Peter tells Jesus “I love you” three times after previously denying him three times.
Jesus brought Peter back and he wants us back offering to break-the-fast of living without his spiritual nourishment needed to fuel our hope. Jesus is our ONLY hope.
Despite our inferior feelings and exterior actions, which sometimes reek of hopelessness and failure, God never stops wooing us back to himself. He wants the relationship, so he initiates it.
Here are Jesus’ words. You can’t get any more personal than this. “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” (Revelation 3:20, NLT, emphasis mine)
So how does God woo us? Besides Jesus offering himself to us, another way is through friendships. We need God and each other. Who in your life encourages you to look UP? And who can you encourage to look UP? Why not call a friend and meet for coffee?
Be encouraged by the value of friendship in the lyrical video below.
Pictures courtesy of “Nelson & his Nikon”
4 thoughts on ““Up, Up, and Away””
Beautiful devotion!! Also, perfect dedication to Nancy Silvey!! That little woman is the source of sooo many looking up to the Lord in faith‼️ Thank you
Thanks Cindy for reading! You are correct–I’ve just one of many Nancy has touched! She told me how she would encourage Hunter! You yourself are a tremendous light to your family and folks at Rainbow Prez!
Beautifully written and oh so helpful. Thanks for helping me to quit staring straight ahead and to return my eyes to looking up and on Jesus’ face.
Hi Diane! Thanks for reading my writings! Who would have thought after all these years in this crazy twist and turn of a life that’s we’d reconnect via a devotional blog! I love you! Your nephew-Nelson
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