I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2
A typical summer around Bakersfield is hazy and hot. The smog from all the northern California cities settles around the base of the three mountain ranges that border us on the south, east, and west. We can almost never see the mountains. The blazing heat seems to make it worse.
For some reason, in the summer of 2022, we were surprised to see the mountains around our town. When we would walk in the morning or drive out to visit my mother-in-law in her skilled nursing facility, it just seemed like the hills were extra vibrant.
But here we were, in the middle of July, and even into August. I remember making the comment about how grateful I was to be able to look to the hills and actually see their beauty. And then, at the end of August, our world was turned upside down.
When we got word that our son was in ICU in San Diego, we immediately began the drive over what locals call the Grapevine. I thought about the hills we were crossing and the ones I had seen this summer, and the verse from Psalm 121:1-2 came to my mind: “I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
We immediately went to the Lord. We petitioned for Him to save our son’s life. We cried out to the Maker of heaven and earth, the Creator of our human bodies and souls. We don’t know why God chose to not heal him on this Earth. We do know that He is completely free of any chains, bondage, illness, disease—fully healed in Heaven.
God’s help continues to come as we seek the Lord through our grief. We thank Him for the years we had with our boy. We petition His wisdom and favor to help us and his little family to get through this somehow, some way. We know God will do it. He is faithful. He is the source of our help!
A few weeks after our son’s memorial service I had the opportunity to accompany a friend to her mountain cabin. We were both going to refresh our hearts and minds, seek God’s leading for our future businesses/books/ministries, and have a little time to nurture our friendship. Lori, my sweet friend, insisted that she take care of the meals because of some food aversions. We ate like queens. Not only was everything tasty, it was healthy. We walked and talked, prayed and read our Bibles, worked on various projects, and took in the beauty of God’s creation.
A family of deer graced our presence a couple of times. The wind in the trees was like the ocean waves, soothing our souls. We wrapped ourselves in blankets against the cold morning because the air was so clean and fresh--we couldn't bear staying inside. We felt the nearness of God enfolding us.
Now that I was actually getting the cabin experience Lori had told me about, I could empathize much better at how devastating the forest fires of 2021 had been for her. On one of our walks, she showed me just how close the fires had been. Though the firemen were able to save the entire community of homes, everywhere around them for miles were charred trees and black soil. A few sprigs of green were sprouting up among the dead underbrush, but it was a wasteland for acres and acres.
We crested a hill where she pointed out that beyond the wreckage you could see the hills that were still vibrant with color, a lake nestled in the valley, and the blue skies dotted with clouds. We talked about how those without Christ only see the desolation. They have a sense of hopelessness, as if this is all that life has to offer.
In Christ, we live in the world, but not of the world. We, too, see the havoc Satan has wreaked among us. The advantage we have is that we can see beyond the damage. We see our hope and future in God’s purpose for our lives through our trials and joys. We understand this world is not our permanent home. We look forward to seeing Jesus face to face and living with Him for eternity.
I was reminded of another Psalm. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4. We are all walking through this dark and dreary world. We will all face death at some point. But we do not have to fear the evil that surrounds us. We don’t have to be afraid of death. God is with us! He comforts us and draws us near with his rod and staff. We look forward to forever as we catch a glimpse of the hills beyond the destruction. We are encouraged and assured of a promising future.
Some in this world might have a tendency toward worshiping nature, looking to the hills for help and strength. It is a lovely thought, but an empty path. We look to the hills, for our help comes from the Lord!