Don’t Look Down!
by pastor Andy Lauer
Each of these devotional blogs entries is meant to be read on your own or if you have family or friends you live with, to be read together aloud. A suggestion is to do this after you have dinner around the table together. At the conclusion, please spend time in personal reflection or in sharing with one another your answers to the questions at the end. Be sure to conclude with prayer.
Read Isaiah 26:1-11
“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you.” (Isa. 26:3, NLT)
“Don’t look down!”
How many times have we heard that shouted to someone on a television show or movie? Invariably the person being encouraged is facing some perilous predicament atop a sky scraper or balancing over a ravine. And almost just as invariably, the person looks down and freezes, immobilized by fear. Why? Because they put their focus on the ground far below them.
Probably all of us have felt this way at some point. Many people fear heights. I used to work in construction roofing houses. Single-story homes weren’t so bad. Even two- or three-story homes with a low pitch (meaning a low incline), didn’t bother me. But every once-in-a-while we would work on a roof whose pitch required delicate footwork transitioning from the 25-foot ladder on to the roof, and then even more care as we navigated the walkways provided by the roof jacks nailed to the decking while carrying 60-80 pound bundles of shingles on our shoulders. The only way I was able to get through it sometimes was to just focus on the task at hand and NOT think about gravity wanting to have its way with me.
A passage of Scripture that has lodged itself in my heart and mind is Isaiah 26:3 above; God promises peace to those who stay focused on Him. It’s a scripture that has come to mind many times during this pandemic, especially in a world that is spiraling into fear, chaos, and acrimony. This should not surprise us, however. When a child focuses obsessively on the dark closet at night (that might be hiding a monster) he or she is overcome with fear. When we focus on the monsters in our world, real or perceived, we will run into the same psychological, emotional, and even spiritual trap of being consumed with fear. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
God’s does not make empty promises. Let me say that again, God does not make empty promises. When He says through the prophet Isaiah that He is able to keep us living in peace, He means it. However, His promises usually require something from us. In this instance, God promises peace to those of us “whose thoughts are fixed on [Him]” We do not lack peace because God does not give it, we lack peace because our thoughts are not fixed on Him.
Where are your thoughts fixed right now? Where have your thoughts been fixed these last few weeks? Does your mind run to God or does it run to the dire, sometimes sensationalized, news cycle? Does your heart turn first to God’s provision in your life or is it first consumed by the needs in front of you as you face loss of income or sickness? It’s not that we don’t need to address these issues; we can’t just bury our heads in the sand. However, we must not put the cart before the horse, so to speak. Listening to God, looking to Him, must come first.
If I was standing at the edge of a precipice, Indiana Jones’ style, wondering how I was going to get across, it would do me no good to stand there just staring into the maw of that chasm. I will never get across it that way. Instead, I would need to put my foot on the rope ladder, one step at a time, all the while keeping my gaze fixed ahead of me. In the same way, the promise of God’s peace is for those who choose to look and keep looking to God regardless of the peril around them.
Staring at our problems won’t make them go away. But as we fix our gaze on the One who already knows what we face, and Who knows the way through it, we can find a deep and abiding peace that few in the world can understand.
I want to encourage you, whatever you are facing at this moment, it is not too deep of a problem for God, and if you’ll look to Him, you’ll discover a peace you never thought possible.
Many of you have probably already seen the following video. Whether you have or haven’t, take a moment to listen to this great hymn and allow God to remind you of His peace and provision that comes as you fix your mind on Him:
When peace like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll,
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
Reflect with someone else or on your own:
- What things are robbing you of peace right now?
- How do you believe that keeping our eyes fixed on God helps us to discover and experience peace?
- What is the difference between God’s peace and the peace this world offers?