“I will lift up my eyes to the mountains. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1-2
Arriving at the car rental queue at the Baltimore airport we frowned at the long line but patiently waited the forty-five minutes it took to get to the counter. (I should rightly say my husband, Marty, waited patiently while I sat in a comfy seat watching the luggage.) Understandably tired and prickly, the agent checked us in and ten minutes later we were on the freeway driving to our hotel, excited for the fun few days ahead. However, after just a few miles, the rental car rumbled and lost power. Surprised by the strange noise and loss of acceleration Marty heeded the warning on the dashboard imploring us to “See Owner’s Manual” and pulled the car over into the breakdown lane. Unfortunately, there was no owner’s manual in the glove compartment.
“The transmission slipped,” Marty said, puzzled as he turned off the motor. After a few minutes he started the car again and took off. This time it seemed to drive okay and we made it to our hotel. Sadly, the next day the same thing happened on our way to breakfast. Because of this, we arranged to have the vehicle exchanged, which we knew would be time-consuming, inconvenient but necessary. The wonderful thing is neither of us let it steal our joy. There was peace “like a river” because we had our eyes set on the prize. We were there to enjoy watching our son play baseball. And, because the hotel was next to the ball field, there was no disappointment when the car didn’t work properly because it had no bearing on our ability to enjoy the games. Also, we didn’t care that the car was a hassle because we weren’t focused on the car! We ended up having a wonderful trip and made it back to the airport without a hitch or rumble.
In the same way, God tells us to focus on the prize (Christ Himself forevermore) and not on our circumstances. We will all eventually arrive at our final destination with joy if we keep our eyes on Jesus. Unless, of course, He isn’t your prize. What are you living for? What do you hope for your future? Are you trusting God, hoping in Christ alone, or are your eyes stuck on what is lacking? If your hope is in a changed spouse, good health, a new house, perfectly behaved children or a larger paycheck instead of Christ Himself then you are not placing your Hope in Christ alone. You are metaphorically focused on the rental car that doesn’t work and the hassle you are forced to go through because of it, never mind that it’s the very vehicle that God chose to use to get you to the final destination.
The song In Christ Alone by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty begins with a bold statement describing our firm foundation and the peace we have in Christ when He is our rock.
“In Christ alone my hope is found, He is my light, my strength, my song; this Cornerstone, this solid Ground, firm through the fiercest drought and storm. What heights of love, what depths of peace, when fears are stilled, when strivings cease! My Comforter, my All in All, here in the love of Christ I stand.”
Looking up we see our eternal future and nothing this side of heaven can steal our joy. In contrast, if my focus is, for example, on my child’s success or failure and how it may reflect on me then my hope is on unstable ground. In this case my song would be more like this;
“In my child alone my hope is found, He is my light, my strength, my song; this little me, gives identity, changing with every up and down. What heights of pride, what depths of shame, when fear and striving never cease! My tormentors, my all in all, here in insecurity I stand.”
This is not the kind of theme song I want to define the majority of my life. I pray for God’s holy hand to take hold of my chin and lift it to heaven when I am tempted to linger on anything other than Christ alone. Thank God for graciously giving us warning lights on the dashboard of our hearts and for His perfect Owner’s Manual!
“Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the LORD, and He will have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. Isaiah 55:6-8