I will lift my eyes to the hills
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord!
Now I realize I live in a part of the country most people would describe as flat. Sure, as Wisconsinites we get a bit defensive about that...start talking about topography and rolling hills near New Glarius and the joy that is looking out over a harvested corn field to see for miles and miles and that at least we are not as flat as Nebraska!
The psalmist talks about looking to the hills for help, which for most of us we take to mean that this psalm is about the beauty of God's creation and how God's fingerprints are all over the world.
But something a bit more subversive is going on here.
You see Psalm 121 was often sung by pilgrims as they were traveling. Sometimes in places they had never been to before...in a foreign land...in unfamiliar territory. Now stop and think...if you don't know where you are going and don't have your smartphone/gps/or even a map with you, a hill may not exactly be the most welcome sight.
The reality is that a hill...for all it's beauty...is also an excellent hiding place. You don't know what is on the other side. You can't see. And sometimes hills were places where thieves hid out or animals perched.
Sometimes a hill can be beautiful....sometimes a hill can be dangerous.
This past Sunday I encouraged people to lean into life...with all its blessedness and brokenness. I am finding out this week, that was easier said than lived.
Can I look around at the places in my life that I am just unsure about, don't know what to do about, or am even scared about and say that God can be found there? We all seem to accept God is with us in the mountain top moments, or when we are on top of the hill. But when we are in the valley or when we can't see very far in front of us because something is obstructing our view...what about God?
The psalm suggests God is there. Maybe not in the same ways as when the laughter comes easy....but God is still there. I pray for those places in your life right now that feel like a hilly moment...one that is obstructing your view...one that you just don't know what to do about...that the traces of God's grace will be there.
Maybe saying the words of the 121st psalm over that moment might help.
Maybe naming it as a hill might help
Maybe asking for God to help might even offer you the peace it offered pilgrims for centuries.
May the traces of God's grace be found in your journeys this week where it feels like you can see for miles and miles or if it feels like you are in the valley of hills.