Stressed Out and Anxious?

Look Up!  (Listen to the audio version)

My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; In the morning I will direct it to You, And I will look up. Psalm 5:3 (KJV).

While riding my bicycle one morning, I noticed a man walking toward me with his head down and on the same side of the pathway. I unintentionally startled him when I called out, "Good morning!" As we passed one another, we exchanged pleasantries, and then I continued peddling my bike to the inlet, where I stopped to read my Bible and pray. As I reflected on Psalm 5, I realized I was like the man on the pathway. You see a few days prior to this, I had been startled by some unexpected business news, and I was living with terrible anxiety over it. I had been looking down, consumed with my situation, rather than looking up toward God. In today's passage, the Psalmist reminds us to look up, to direct our thoughts to God in the morning.

The Hebrew word for "look" is "tsaphah" (tsaw-faw). It means to lean forward, to peer into the distance, to observe, await, look up, wait for, or keep the watch. The Orthodox Jewish Bible translates look up as wait for an answer. The New International Version translates the phrase as wait expectantly. And the Common English Bible says, ". . .In the morning I lay it all out before you. Then I wait expectantly." These translations help us understand what it means to look up to God when we're afraid, anxious, or stressed out. 

The story of Peter walking on water, from Matthew 14:22-33, also reminds us to look up. Jesus had gone away to pray on a mountainside, while the disciples went out in their boat far from shore. Then, just before dawn (while it was still dark, which made it more frightening), Jesus walked out on the water to his disciples. To say that he startled them is an understatement; they thought he was a ghost! But Peter, being the bold-kind-of-guy that he was, asked Jesus to prove it was really him, saying, "Lord, if it's you, tell me to come to you on the water." Jesus obliged. But he didn't give lengthy instructions as to how it was possible for Peter to walk on water or how he could figure it out. No, he said one word, "Come." And God bless Peter, he obeyed and began walking on water! Walking, that is, until he took his eyes off Jesus and looked at the wind instead. The Scriptures tell us that Peter immediately began sinking, and then he cried out, "Lord, save me!" (I wonder why he didn't start swimming. Maybe he realized that his own power just wasn't going to be enough to save him.) Then Jesus reached out his hand to save him and said, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?" When they climbed into the boat, the wind suddenly died down, and everyone in the boat worshiped Jesus, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God."

We often make the same mistake Peter does. We believe in Jesus, but we're easily distracted when the storms of life come our way. We forget to look up, to peer into the distance and see that our God is in control. Jesus is reaching out to us, asking us to "come" too. He doesn't give us lengthy instructions as to why these startling events happen in our lives or how he'll work them for our good. (Even though we might complain and wonder why.) He wants us to follow him and trust that he will deliver us from our fearful circumstances. We must lay it all out before God—all our fears, anxieties, and worries—and then wait expectantly—looking up—for God to lift us up and show us what he has in store for our lives.

Copyright 2012 SA Keith

Teach children to follow Jesus: Tell Me the Story of Jesus.
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