My daughter is good at humoring me when I want to go for a run together. Typically, she will run several miles in our neighborhood, then come back to pick me up to complete her workout with a “Mom-style” run. On one such run, we rounded a corner to find a group of middle-school boys coming the other direction. The boys were polite enough to make eye contact, acknowledge us and move to the grass on either side of the sidewalk, parting like the Red Sea. All, that is, except the boy at the back of the pack. He was focused on his phone and didn’t realize all his friends were moving to either side of the sidewalk, leaving us nowhere to go except straight ahead where he was coming in the opposite direction. Needing to react quickly, I shouted “Look up!” His startled response and a quick jump out of the way made for a good laugh.
In this instance, I was the one paying attention to what was going on around me, but what about all the times when I’m not? As I listened to Part 3 of Study with Friends’ Acts Bible Study, I was struck by the conversation about our tendency to walk through life with our heads down, whether literally or figuratively. This phenomenon has been around since long before we had cell phones to distract us; in fact, Holly remembers her grandmother’s admonishment to stop “navel gazing” when someone was too consumed with self to pay attention to what was happening around him or her.
Many in the world today understand the importance of looking around to be aware of others in need, so we can help. As a Christian I know that the Bible both encourages and commands us to care for others. But the Lord tells us that even before we look out to others, we should first look up to Him. The first 15 verses of Psalm 105 are also recorded in 1 Chronicles 16:8-22. There is a lot of meaningful stuff in these passages and Psalm 105:4 is no exception: “Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.” (NIV). The Amplified Bible puts it this way: “Seek and deeply long for the Lord and His strength [His power, His might]; Seek and deeply long for His face and His presence continually.” I can’t continually seek God’s face if I am only paying attention to my own agenda—even when my agenda is filled with things that are good or even necessary.
I certainly can’t say that I am great at seeking His face always; but I can say that I am striving to do better. There is no secret formula or prescribed pattern to follow in order to continually seek God’s face. The Lord communicates with each of us in the ways He knows are best for us—after all, He knows us each intimately. In fact, through His time on earth, Jesus understands what our lives are like and even sympathizes with our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15). What does that mean for us? It means we can come to Him without reservation and He will respond. “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16, NIV)
I encourage you to join me in this pursuit with the confidence that when we seek God, He will respond. “Come near to God and he will come near to you.” (James 4:8a) Look up!