Keep Looking Up

The summer skies are seemingly unending these days.   It never truly turns to complete darkness where I live in June and early July. I know this because I have been up with wee babes at all hours over the last years and twilight continues on through the night until the sun rises again at 4:30 a.m. There are no mountains and very few hills to block the sun and so the sunset goes on forever. 

The front stoop of our house has become a refuge of sorts. A quiet moment at the end of the day. A time to still our hearts and quiet our minds to the rhythm of nature around us.   A time to sit and watch as the canopy of colors and clouds shift and change and stretch to the horizon. 

Last Spring, when I experienced my first iron crash, I found myself sitting on the couch in our living room, staring out the front window. I couldn't sleep. I couldn't eat.  I had no idea what was going on in my body and had no idea if I was going to get better. 

And that is when I first saw it. 

We had lived in this house for several years and I had never truly looked out the front window of my home. Of course, I had looked out at our lawn and the passers by, I had watched rabbits and garbage trucks with my children. But I have never looked up. I had never seen the sky.

We have a big, old picture window. One large beautiful clear piece of glass. And from the window we have an unencumbered view of the spectacular evening sky, at least for a home in the city. No large buildings or trees are in the way. It is a prairie sky in all its splendour. Right there, out my front window.

But I hadn’t noticed until that night.  

It took me being at the end of my rope to look up. And now I see it every single night.

It's strange how difficulty or troubling times can open our eyes to the beauty we were too busy to see. How the uncomfortability of brokenness can make us surprisingly present in the world. We see the skies and clouds because we have been forced to stop. Perhaps we see the details that make up our world more clearly because we are desperately searching our surroundings for some sense in all that has happening to us or to others that we care about. We are looking for confirmation that Jesus was speaking truth in his revelations to Julian of Norwich saying, "All shall be well and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well." 

This year, once the weather was warm enough, I found myself on the stoop again, watching that same patch of sky.  Looking up and watching the clouds drift through the sky with dogged determination rather unhindered by my own woes. I watch as the light brazenly displays its ability to reflect and bounce and change. I breathe in the fresh and fragrant summer air and hear the songs of tiny birds.  On my stoop, the goodness of God all around me in all its breathtaking beauty. 

The sky is never the same. And I find this comforting. It reminds me that life will continue, that I do not know the future nor could predict it. Looking up at the sky for me brings me a deep sense of peace. It calms my breathing and draws me into its beauty, grounding me where I am and reminding me of my smallness, in a good way.  

I once heard J.I Packer reflect on his time at College. He confessed that he would often be burdened and muddled by his theological studies and would darken the door of one particular professor to work through whatever might be nagging him.  Dr.Packer said that every time he left his professor's office the professor would say, "Keep looking up Jim."

Keep looking up.

 I lift my eyes up to the mountains - where does my help come from. My help comes from the Lord, maker of heaven and earth. - Psalm 121:1-2

Keep looking up. 

Those who look to Him are radiant, their faces are never covered in shame. -Psalm 34:5

Keep looking up

Lift up your eyes on high and see who created the stars, the one who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name; Because of the greatness of his might and strength of his power, not one of them is missing. -Isaiah 40:26

Keep looking up. 

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.(Colossians 3:1) 

Keep looking up.

Paul, the author of these words, knew the weight of the world and the reality of suffering. He wrote these words from prison awaiting his almost certain death. Pain was all too real for Paul, as the scars on his skin would show. But he also knew the reality of the Cosmic Christ.  Paul knew where he and anyone else would find their solace.  It would be to continue to look to Jesus, to set their hearts where all the fragmented realities, all the complexities, all the theological tension, and all that is good hold together. 

When we fix our eyes away from ourselves and our troubles and focus them on Jesus we see the one who gives us peace, the founder of our hope, who rules over all of heaven. We see the one who loves us just as we are, in this very moment, in all our desperation.   

Keep looking up. 

Looking to Jesus reminds us of the one who is present with us in our challenge. The one who wore our very skin, who bore all things on himself and silenced the voice of the accuser.

By lifting our eyes to Jesus we are reminded of the new reality - where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Where Christ rules supreme, where death's sting has been silenced. And we are reminded that all will be well and all IS well.  We rest our mind on Jesus - the resurrected one, the King of heaven. 

When I look to the sky in the evenings I am reminded that the God who makes this beautiful world knows my name. It reminds me that no matter what I am facing, the Cosmic Christ - who created light in all its wonders considers me an important part His great creation . The one who designed the clouds to shape and form in infinite combinations created me in His image.  And for a moment - I am lifted into a future reality where Christ will reign over everything and we will make all things new.

Keep looking up my friends.