Where does our help come from? This is the question that Nancy and I are forced to answer on a daily basis as we face the challenges of life. This might be a question you are pondering today as well.
The Bible explains clearly that as Christians we are pilgrims on a pilgrimage. This might be difficult for us to conceptualize, but Jewish believers understood it well. They made pilgrimages to Jerusalem three times a year for important feasts.
At times, the journey was lonely – there were wild animals, altars to false gods, enemies, places where they could slip and fall, and attacks from bandits. As these pilgrims would caravan from their respective valleys to the mountains of Jerusalem, they would sing the Psalms of Ascent (Psalms 120-134). These were sung in community to encourage one another as they traveled.
The experiences and struggles of the Jewish pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem might be similar to what you are experiencing today.
In Psalm 121, one of the Psalms of Ascent, we learn about the source of our help.
I will lift up my eyes to the hills—From whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth (vs. 1-2).
The mountainous area around Jerusalem is so unique in the Middle East. From the desert of Arabia to Hebron is a continual ascent. As pilgrims drew closer to their destination, they needed to lift their eyes off the challenges of their journey and onto Jerusalem and everything Zion symbolized. They needed the reminder that help comes from no other than God alone.
The covenant God, the same One who redeemed Israel from Egypt, is the one who helps us. He is our ally. Yahweh, who made heaven and earth, is our ultimate and perfect life partner. He made the heavens and the earth with absolute brilliance, out of nothing! What will His creative power and excellence do in our lives?
He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep (vs. 3-4).
God is the selfless Shepherd who leads his sheep along dangerous paths without allowing them to slip (John 10:7-18). By His grace and enablement, our feet are moving forward, but they are kept by Him from the slippery ways of a tired and afflicted life.
Three times in Psalm 121, the pilgrim is promised that God is on guard all day and all night. He never sleeps, He never slumbers, and there is never a point where He abandons His post. We would not survive for a moment if our Keeper were to ever rest or sleep. We can fall asleep because we know that God is always awake!
The LORD is your keeper; The LORD is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, Nor the moon by night. (vs. 5-6).
Scripture often speaks of the “right hand of Yahweh” to describe the power of Yahweh in delivering His people (Ps. 18:35, Isa. 41:13) as well as His blessing (Ps. 16:11, Matt. 26:64). The pilgrim is promised protection from the blazing heat and the dangers and fears of night. The pilgrim could rest assured of Yahweh’s unfailing protection from the oppression of the day and the night.
The LORD shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore. (vs. 7-8).
Yahweh will keep the pilgrim’s life from all harm. From the time of our birth to the moment we are with Him for all eternity, He is on guard preserving us and providing for us! God is near to us! God’s care extends not just to all places and settings of life, but also to all time, “from now until forever.” Our entrances and exits in this life are under one protection, His perfect protection.
As we continue to move forward together as a community, trusting in the help that comes from the Lord, I am in awe of how He is guarding, protecting and transforming us!
Here are some of the ways I see Him at work:
- On the final day of our recent basketball camp, 9 kids trusted in Christ!
- Recently we gathered at the pool and celebrated as 13 of our young people boldly declared their identity in Christ and His church in baptism!
- Last week a gentleman who attended our church years ago came to campus and dropped off a check for $88,000! He had just sold his home in LA, was moving out of state, and wanted to hand deliver the tithe on his home to Church of the Open Door.
- God’s grace is being extended to India, East Africa, Vietnam, South America and other places through our amazing missionaries and through your prayers and support. You’ll get to hear more during this upcoming WorldReach week.
In the midst of these challenging days, the Lord is with us! Our help comes from Him!
P.S. One of the challenges for all of us is continuing to live with the pandemic. In an ongoing effort to keep you informed in a predictable way, we will be sharing any all-church covid news once each week in a section of our Open Door Weekly communication. This email will go out on Wednesdays.
And as always, if there is a way I can be praying for you and your family, I would love to know.