Look Up, Child

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What a delight this week to introduce Hungry For More readers to Magen Thetford. Magen is a passionately devoted young woman, who blends the messiness of marriage and motherhood with a massive love for God. In her humility, she doesn’t realize that her very life is speaking volumes toward a perseverant faith. I know that as you hear her heart, you will love her as I do.

Deep in the throes of motherhood, you will find me covered in spit up from my nine-week old baby, peanut butter from my two-year-old and medicine from my four-year-old (he had a severe reaction to recent immunizations.) From the moment my feet hit the floor, I am constantly teaching, redirecting, and refereeing. 

“Please stop taunting your brother!”
“Don’t hit! We use our words, not our hands!”
“Hold on! What is going on?
“Is that practicing obedience or disobedience?”

You get the picture. 

But recently, I found myself doing something different to quench the fire of trouble. In the heat of a moment, while one of my kids expresses his “end-of-the-world” preschool grief, I walk over to him, gently cup his little chubby cheeks in my hand and tell him to look up at me. 

Although he is unable to catch his breath as tears stream down his face, I remind him to look into my eyes, until finally he can focus

As soon as he does, we talk it all through. In most cases, I give him a larger perspective than he had without my help. I might not be able to change what happened, but I can offer wisdom with how to handle it or what to do next.

This situation occurs more frequently than I’d like to admit. When something doesn’t go according to my perfect plan, I react instead of looking up. Like those moments when life doesn’t seem fair because I’m swallowed by the need to compare. Moments when heaviness will not (for the life of me) seem to lift. Moments when pure exhaustion races over me and I have zero patience left in my tank. Moments I feel a failure, while insecurity overcomes me.

One thing I have realized. All these moments have something in common: eyes focused on me and my surroundings.

This is when God steps in, gently cups my cheeks in His hands and says, “Look up, child.” 

I was reminded of this recently in Matthew 16:21-23. Jesus was telling His disciples that He was about to go suffer death through the cross, be raised again on the third day, and Peter stepped in to say, “No way!” This plan didn’t line up with what Peter thought should happen. Peter wasn’t thinking correctly about the situation. He was looking at it from his very limited perspective. Jesus promptly stepped in to correct him with the most intriguing response.

Get behind me, Satan. You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on things of God, but on the things of man.” Jesus goes straight to the heart of the issue and says to look up! Change your perspective! In the following verses, He points Peter to what the things of God are and what it looks like to truly follow Him.

Like Peter, we can get our minds fixed on our ideal plan. Or maybe we get in a tizzy over something little in the big scheme of things. Either way, it is our choice whether or not we will look up. 

So, what are some practical tools to help us do this? Scripture truly is a lamp to our feet to show us how to walk this out practically (Psalm 119:105). 

  • CHOOSE to set your mind on things above (Colossians 3:1-3) 
  • TAKE every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5)
    • Stop and pray immediately, offering those thoughts to God and asking for help
  • FILL your mind with truth through scripture (John 17:17)
    • Focus on attributes of God as you read such as Provider, Encourager, Sovereign, etc.
    • Turn on worship music (I am loving “Scripture Lullabies”) or a scripture-based podcast (“Pray the Word” is a 3-5 minute podcast that teaches you how to pray scripture)
  • PRACTICE gratitude (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
    • Tell God everything you are thankful for and watch how it shifts your perspective

Redirect your focus to Jesus. 

I’m learning that when life doesn’t quite look like what I envisioned, God beckons, “Look up, child. Let me give you some perspective. Let me speak truth into you. My plan is perfect. Trust me.”

I will leave you with the words of one of my favorite Hymns:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace