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Faith column: Look up and see what God is doing

In the busyness of our lives, we often forget to look up. Children grow up so fast and we become so busy we forget to observe them and see how they are growing and changing.

GALEN SMITH
Smith
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WORTHINGTON — “Look up.”

I’ve lost track of how many times the conductor or choir director admonished me and other musicians. It is so easy for us to become so focused on the notes or words on the page that we fail to observe the conductor trying to get us to increase or decrease the tempo, get back on the beat, get louder or softer, or some other action that will help us make music.

“Look up,” the driving instructor tells us. “Get the big picture.” It’s easy when driving to become so focused on one spot on the road we miss other hazards. Or worse, we get focused on adjusting the radio, the text message that just appeared on our phone, or the kids fighting in the back seat and miss the changing traffic light or the car coming at us.

In the busyness of our lives, we often forget to look up. Children grow up so fast and we become so busy we forget to observe them and see how they are growing and changing. We get so busy with other activities, such as work, and we suddenly discover that the flame we had for our spouse has flickered and died.

I once lived in a river town. Our house was right across the street from the river. I enjoyed watching the river daily. It never ceased to amaze me how the river changed. I would notice something different every day. In the same way I enjoy taking my dog on walks around Worthington, especially the lake. Every walk I notice something different. It may be a change in the lake, or the leaves or flowers or maybe it is someone new out in their yard.

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Then there are the times I’m so wrapped up in my own concerns that I may not notice what’s happening around me. I’ve been known to stop and stare off into space as some thought or problem pops to my mind. When that happens, I might be oblivious to my wife who is asking me a question. A friendly hint — that’s not the way to make your wife happy!

In scripture we are encouraged in many places to “look up.” In the prophet Isaiah, we are asked, “I am about to do a new thing … do you not perceive it?”

The Psalmist tells us, “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.”

We are called to be alert, looking for the things God is doing. It is only when we “Look up. Lift our eyes out of our music, looking past the concerns and problems of the day, that we begin to see what God is doing.”

You may notice in the scripture references above that looking up contains a second action, the recognition of what God is doing. In music, the idea is not to just see the director waving the baton but to be guided by it. It’s not enough to just see the danger when driving, we need to be ready to respond to the situation. It is not enough to just see the new thing God is doing, we need to be ready to step into this new reality.

I think Mary, the mother of Jesus, had the right idea. We are told that after the shepherds left she “treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.” She also “pondered” the greeting the angel gave her before telling her she would bear the Christ child.

Another way of putting it might be to say she saw and heard what God was doing, but she also allowed it to fill her spirit in a way that provided strength, hope and joy to help her through the challenges of the journey ahead.

As we travel through this Advent season, may we look up and see what God is doing and may we ponder and treasure in our hearts the glory of God’s gift of love.

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Rev. Galen Smith is pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Worthington.

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