Pastoral Perspectives

Look Up

     Many years ago, I was in the midst of going through a difficult period; particularly because someone that I had looked up to had let me down. The week was very hard for me. Sunday came and my mind was still very troubled. My prayer was that God would continue to sustain me and help me make it through the day. The choir was scheduled to sing that morning. Everything was in order (except my troubled mind) and it was time for the choir to go up and sing on that beautiful Sunday morning.

     One by one the choir members moved to the front and lined up. I opened my file and realised that my choir score was missing. Suddenly that person who let me down meant nothing to me! The choir opened their scores and looked at me to start the song. The pianist was ready, seated in position and waiting to take the cue from me. I had no time to even think about what happened to my music score. When you are standing in front of a congregation, every second counts and there was no time to waste. Deep inside me, I was panicking and crying to the Lord, “Help me Lord, now I need you more than any anything, Amen.” I took a deep breath and let go of all my knowledge of the song and began to move my hands. I had no idea how long the introduction was and I had to look at the way the choir members were flipping their pages and breathing to kind of gauge the song. All I knew was that it was written in 3/4 time signature. There was even a repeat segment and I had to look carefully at the way they were turning back the pages to ensure that I was guiding them correctly. We managed to sing the song without a glitch. One by one, we all returned to our pews.

     I had no idea how we were able to sing the song without any mistakes. The Lord reminded me then and there the meaning of the song we were singing that morning. It was taken from Psalm 121:1-8

I lift up my eyes to the hills.

    From where does my help come?

My help comes from the Lord,

    who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;

    he who keeps you will not slumber.

Behold, he who keeps Israel

    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;

    the Lord is your shade on your right hand.

The sun shall not strike you by day,

    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;

    he will keep your life.

The Lord will keep

    your going out and your coming in

    from this time forth and forevermore.

     I had to let go of my hurt, my thoughts, my abilities, my dependence on the music score, my memory of the song and solely depend on Him so that the meaning of the song would come alive. Every word of the song rang in my head and it dawned upon me I simply had to lift up my eyes from me, my problems and my unhappiness and look to Him. I learnt a very valuable lesson that Sunday morning and it has stayed with me to this day.

     We often pray and sing that God would do His will in our lives, that His kingdom would come in and through us, that God would use us for His glory.  If we really mean it, God would often have to alter our plans and disrupt our perfectly planned lives. In order for God to take over, we have to let go and it is something very hard to do. If we analyse our prayers carefully, we tell God what to do for us- we pray for good health, safety, success, prosperity, programs that we have lined up and so on. If God were to alter our plans, are we willing?

     As 2018 comes to a close and another year is dawning, the question that I want to pose to you is this: What are you looking at?

     Given the circumstances we are in, it is easy to look at ourselves, our interests, our problems, our career, our family et al. The word of God reminds us that even in the midst of such compelling commitments, we are to look up to the Lord because He is our help.

     David the shepherd said “The Lord is my shepherd” (Ps 23). That Sunday morning, I had to let go off of my conducting skills and music and let God be my conductor. Whatever your profession is, can God take over as your teacher, manager, director, driver, doctor, lawyer, accountant…?

     2 Corinthians 12:19-20 says But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

     If you are feeling weak, insulted, going through hardships, facing persecution and calamities (for the sake of the gospel), lift your eyes to the hills and may His power be made perfect.

Pr Loliro Sani

November 11, 2018