The older man was walking down the street. As he came to the corner, he noted a little boy searching around the road under the street light. He was concerned about the youngster being out so late at night, so he decided to try and help. He carefully got to his knees and began looking around as he asked the boy, “What are you looking for?” “My quarter,” he replied. “I dropped it coming out of the grocery store and mom gets mad if I don’t bring home all the change.” The man looked around for a bit and then he asked, “but isn’t the grocery store over there in the middle of the block? Why are you looking for your quarter here?” “Yes, sir,” the boy replied. “I’m looking here because it’s too dark to see anything over there.”
How often do we look for something in the wrong places because it’s easier to see, or perhaps more convenient? In ancient Israel there was a continuous battle over the hearts and minds of the people. The religions of the land they occupied worshiped in the mountains and the high places. When things didn’t go just right, there was this idea in the back of their minds that perhaps they weren’t honoring the gods of the land appropriately. Sure they believed in God, but, things weren’t always easy following Him. So, for many, they returned to the high places. That struggle is shown throughout the books of Kings and Chronicles. “I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1-2)
For the longest time I got this verse wrong. I thought the Psalmist was talking about looking to the mountains to get his help from the Lord. What I now see happening, as I understand God’s Word better, is that the psalmist is describing a difficult time where he needs God’s help. He sees the mountains in the background. Perhaps his friends have been inviting him to a sacrificial feast on the mountains in honor of Ba’al or some other local deity. Perhaps they might even have mentioned his difficulties happening as a result of not honoring the “local” gods. So as he’s dealing with the problem, his eyes wander to the mountains. He shakes his head because he knows that he shouldn’t run to the mountains for help; his help is from the Lord who created those mountains.
Each day we have difficulties. When those difficulties come, we can search for help in many places. Our society makes it very easy to get help without even thinking about God. We can turn to friends, the government, or even the church looking for help with our issues – especially if they are financial. Doing that in and of itself isn’t necessarily wrong. The question, though, is where do you turn first? Do you seek God when problems come? Do you cry out to Him in prayer and seek His guidance? Or do you run to your BFF and cry on their shoulder without thinking about God? When financial issues come, do you seek God first and look for His direction? Or do you apply for government aid right away? Or expect the church to take care of your needs? God may lead you to your BFF, or the government, or to the church. Sometimes He may lead those people to you. Sometimes He may have a different solution that’s even better. The important point is that we remember to seek God first in our difficulties. His love and grace and work miracles!
Lord, how often I slide away from You. I think I can handle my problems myself. I look to others for help when I should seek You. The mountains are so beautiful, it’s easy to be drawn to them instead of looking to You. Remind me in my weakness to seek You first in all that I do and whenever I have trouble.