KOEDYKER: Keep looking up

Have you ever seen one of those climbing walls they have at various summer camps and vacation destinations? On our recent family vacation, one of our group activities was to scale the climbing wall at a resort near Crystal Lake. Most of us gave it a try, but it was not as easy as it looked.
Jul 27, 2014

Amazingly, one of the youngest in our number, Matthew, 6, made it all the way up to the top. As he edged his way upward, it was fun to watch his face and the expression of concentration and determination.

Those of us on the ground kept cheering him on until he made it up to the top and was able to pull the rope on the bell affixed to the pinnacle of the tower. In a moment of triumph, my little grandson smiled warmly as he gazed down on his applauding family.

That was fun! Pure family enjoyment! A moment not easily forgotten.

Back at the cottage when I had a chance to talk to him alone, I asked him about what the experience was like for him. Was it fun? Was it a bit scary? After all, the top was about three stories up.

And then I asked him, “Did you think you would be able to make it all the way up to the top?” His answer was precious and rang true with some basic spiritual principles. He responded, “When I looked down at the ground, it was scary. But when I looked up – at the bell – I knew I could do it.”

What my grandson said reminded me of a verse from the Bible when the apostle Paul advised his Colossian readers, “Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things.” (Colossians 3:2)

It also brought back memories of a little wall plaque that my grandparents bought me at the Christian book store at Winona Lake Conference Grounds when I was a boy. The plaque, which my dad helped me put up on the wall by my bed, said, “Keep looking up.” I have often thought of that plaque and those words. 

When troubling things happened to me, like all of us, I often got “down.” But when I look up and remember that there is a God up there who loves me and cares about me, and despite how things may look in this chaotic world, I am somehow able to carry on.  And despite how chaotic things may look in this world, we have a heavenly Father who is in control.

Jesus had some good words on this subject, too. His wise counsel is: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven. … For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)

Faith sees beyond the things of this world. Faith looks up. Faith reminds us that we are cared for and loved. And that faith is a great assurance and motivation for us to share that same kind of love, care and concern for others.

— John Koedyker is pastor of congregational care for Beechwood Reformed Church in Holland.

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