"I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth" (Psalm 121:1-2, ESV).
Tears mingled with perspiration as I sat there, thinking and praying. "Lord," I said, "I really need your help."
"Yes, you do," I sensed. And then the scripture quoted above came to mind. I decided to meditate on those words while doing exercises in the water.
(1) "I lift up my eyes to the hills." How fitting. As the sun seemed to slowly creep over the hill behind our house, I found my eyes lifting toward the rising sun.
I thought of the psalmist, David, and why he might be looking toward the hills. Matthew Henry* believes David, some distance away from Jerusalem and possibly in a soldier's camp risking his life, was looking toward the hills where the Jewish Temple was built. David was saying in the midst of his circumstances, "I am lifting up my eyes and looking toward the special presence and power and provision of God."
The Lord spoke to my heart: "Dawn, you haven't been lifting your eyes to me. You haven't been seeking my presence. You've been looking down at your circumstances and at your temptations, trusting in your own strength and rehearsing your failures."
I had indeed been looking to the strength of my own flesh. (And every time I do that, I eventually fail.)
Whenever I try to "gut it out" by myself, I fail to rely on the sufficiency of God in Christ.
I forget "I am crucified with Christ." It's no longer me who lives, but rather it is Christ who is alive in me (Galatians 2:20).
My life is hidden in Him, and He is producing death in me to my old fleshly lifestyle of selfish thoughts, selfish desires and selfish choices. I am learning I can say "no" to sin.
The God-centered choice is pivotal. And it's personal. I have to lift up my eyes. No one can do that for me.
(2) "From where does my help come?"
Some translations interpret this phrase to mean, "Does my help come from thence?" (From the hills? From anyplace and anyone here on earth?)
I have a library full of books, including a shelf on Christian dieting helps and devotionals. They are all good. But it's far too easy for me to trust in self-help books, "overcomer" manuals and just about anything other than the Lord (Hebrews 4:15-16) and His Word.
Some other scriptures the Lord brought to mind that morning:
"The Lord is my strength and my shield; in Him my heart trusts,
and I am helped...." (Psalm 28:7a)
"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help
in trouble" (Psalm 46:1).
"I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you" (Psalm 119:11).
"For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war
according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are
not of the flesh but have divine power
to destroy strongholds" (2 Corinthians 10:3-4).
When David asked, "Where am I going to find this help I need?" He quickly answered ...
(3) "My help comes from the Lord...."
David is clear about that. He had assurance based on his past experiences with the Lord, first as a shepherd boy, and then as as a leader.
I have to be clear about that too. MY help comes from the Lord.
David knew God as the Helper because he experienced God's presence. God is with us to help us (Deuteronomy 31:6; Joshua 1:9; Matthew 28:20). We can count on His presence! God takes hold of our right hand and leads us (Isaiah 41:13). The Spirit of God is the Helper Jesus promised; He's not only with us, but in us (John 14:16-17).
And then David adds this powerful affirmation about God: He is the One ...
(4) "...who made heaven and earth."
The One who created the universe certainly knows how to help and relieve me in my troubles. He who made all things out of nothing can take charge of my desires and weaknesses and give me consistency and transformation.
He is my helper, my protector, my strength - and anything else I need.
I keep forgetting that. I'm human. I'm going to battle sin until God calls me home. I may have binges, but Lord willing, they will be fewer. I realize I can choose to eat foolishly, but I can also choose to eat with wisdom. I may have meltdowns, but God will continue to be my shield of protection and the "lifter" of my head (Psalm 3:3).
God, who has His eye on me even when I take my eyes off of Him, will continue to patiently and intentionally work with me. He will perfect that which pertains to me (Psalm 138:8) and accomplish His purposes in me (Philippians 1:6).
Bit by bit, choice by choice, the Father is making me more like His Son (Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 1 John 3:1-2).
I am so thankful I can lift up my eyes and heart to Him, the One who keeps me, even when I blow it.
* Matthew Henry, Psalm 121 - http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/psalms/121.html