1 I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
2 My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.
3 He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
4 Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.
6 The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.
8 The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth,
and even for evermore.
Have you ever climbed up a mountain, or even a hill? The view from higher up gives you a different perspective. The picture above is a view from a hill near my house, looking down on my town. I can see buildings that I recognize, but they seem somehow different than when I drive past them on the street. Pastor Singleton reminded us this morning that sometimes we have to get above our usual plane of existence in order to get a different perspective on things.
My husband and I used to live across the street from a place called "Rattlesnake Mountain." No one climbed that hill without extreme caution, especially during the summer. Some of the mountains that we have to climb in life are just as menacing-sounding as Rattlesnake Mountain. Just the idea of having to climb makes us think of hardship. For sure, starting to climb takes courage. But did you know that there is a place on the mountain called a "snake line?" That is the altitude above which snakes don't go. If we keep our eyes on God as we climb, we can reach this level. We can leave the pettiness, jealousy, hatred and fear behind us, and live above the snake line.
Psalm 121 says that our help comes from the hills. When Jesus needed to be refreshed, he went into the hills. When he came back to the valley, it was with renewed strength. We need to spend time in the hills. We need time to pray and meditate on God's word, away from the demands of our day-to-day lives. We need to be filled with God's love, so that we can give it away. If we are empty of love, we will only be able to give emptiness to others.
Jesus did not only go to the mountains for privacy. Three of the most significant times of his life took place there. The first was his transfiguration, which you can read about in Mark 9:2-8. During this incident, Jesus was revealed as the Son of God. The second was his death on the cross on Mt. Calvary. Colossians 2:6-15 explains that Jesus' death was really a victory for all of us, making it possible for us to fully live without sin! The third mountain experience was on the Mount of Olives, where Jesus was taken up to Heaven after his resurrection. You can find this in Acts 1:4-14. Here, Jesus told his disciples to wait for the power of the Holy Spirit to come. After he said this, he was suddenly lifted up into a cloud, out of sight! As verse 14 reveals, after this, "The apostles often met together and prayed with a single purpose in mind."
This is the life that we are called to. Not a life of self-indulgence, but a life of serving others. Meeting together and praying with a single purpose. An ascended life! Lifted up with Jesus, looking to God, and moving forward in the power of the Holy Spirit. In John 17, Jesus prayed that his followers would be protected while they were in the world, but acknowledged that they didn't belong there. We can go among the snakes, but we can't live there. Our help is in the hills. Above the snake line. Be a courageous Christian, and look to the hills.