Faith, Perspective

See: When We Need to Look Upward

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

He sat by the temple gate called Beautiful. He was lame in both legs. Couldn’t even walk to his begging post.

What must he have felt? He couldn’t limp, much less walk, to the temple gate. Someone had to carry him there. No doubt dust kicked up into his face as people passed his begging post.

 

He didn’t look into the faces of those from whom he begged. Perhaps shame glued his eyes to the dirt path. Perhaps he was resigned to the reality that this was his lot in life.

Did he grimace at the irony of being placed by the gate called Beautiful? He probably didn’t feel beautiful or attractive. Did he question if God even saw him? He’d probably heard God’s word and law taught in the temple while he begged at the gate. Had he ever even entered into the temple as a lame man?

Then, along came Peter and John.

God had them entering the gate called Beautiful where they came upon this man. The forgotten in their society. The needy. The desperate.

The man saw Peter and John as they entered. He asked for money from them, but he wasn’t looking at them. Perhaps he stared at their feet or the ground.

Peter got his attention, though, when he said, “Look at us!”

 

Did the man lift his eyes, slowly, moving up each inch of these two men’s  healthy bodies? Did the question, “Why?” write itself on his face?

His eyes met theirs. Did his face burn with the shame of his situation? Or was he beyond shame? He expected money from these two men who demanded his attention.

What he received was something so much more. He received a beautiful story. The story of the day he was given a miracle.

I love that Peter not only told him to get up and walk, he offered the man his hand.

The man’s first response was to test out his legs and to praise God. I can hardly imagine the joy that overflowed from his heart.

He wasn’t forgotten. He was healed.

 

How many times do we feel resigned to our lot in life? I’ve had times when I’ve felt forgotten by God. Times when it seemed like my hard would never go away, but this would be my state of living forever and ever, amen.

Discouragement moves in and takes up residence in my heart. My eyes get tangled in my circumstances. I look at the ground rather than the Father. It’s easier to stare down than to risk looking up and being disappointed.

It’s in hard times when we need to choose to seek God’s face.

Those seasons where we feel needy. Helpless. Desperate.

We need to look up. At Him.

 

If we choose to believe God’s truth rather than what our circumstances tell us, we may just discover a bit of beauty.

God never calls us to walk life alone. He never tells us to do something without first giving us the equipping to do that thing.

Just like Peter reached out a hand to help the man up, God reaches His hand to us. He offers us His love and the promise of His presence. Sometimes He gives us much more than we ever hope for.

 

When we trust God, our hearts change. Our outer story may not appear different. We may still be walking through hard. But, our internal stories? That’s where resignation can turn to peace. To beauty. That’s where we can learn to walk again, rather than remaining crippled by the circumstances life deals us.

What about you? When have you seen God move in your circumstances in ways you never expected? How do you hold onto Jesus during the difficult times?

Click to Tweet: It’s in the hard times when we need to seek God’s face.

Today I’m linking up with Holly Barrett’s Testimony Tuesday and Kelly Balarie’s #RaRaLinkup

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24 thoughts on “See: When We Need to Look Upward”

  1. This is a wonderful essay, Jeanne…and, as always, the pictures are so fitting.

    It reached me at an interesting time, because I am tempted to quit writing. My paradigms have changed, and I have the feeling that the world needs another Joel Osteen WAY more than it needs me, with my “Go Tell The Spartans” message. The world and I have diverged; I’m going to the grim hard foundation of the truth of my situation, and everyone else wants, or seems to want, the encouragement to believe that dreams can come true.

    Some can. Mine won’t, and I have to deal with that.

    So, where’s God, and where’s hope?

    God is here, and His message to me is that there may be one more person in this world who needs to hear what I have to say.

    And that HAS to be enough. it doesn’t matter how badly I hurt, or how discouraged I get. That one potential person, somewhere out there, is worth dying for. Is worth MY dying for.

    Because Someone already died for me.

    P.S.

    To those who may not be familiar with the ‘Spartans’ tag, it’s an inscription on a memorial, I don’t know where:

    Go tell the Spartans,
    stranger passing by,
    that here, obedient to their laws,
    we lie.”

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    1. Andrew, I continue to pray for you as you sift the words people share with you through the filter of God’s love for you. We don’t need more Joel Osteens, but we do need words of truth and life, and that’s what I read on your blog and in your comments to others. Yes, there’s brutal honesty, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Reading of your (and others’) hard seasons helps me know how to pray, and it reminds me that God is still as work, even when I can’t see His hand. And, He’s working in and through you. Remember He is a redeeming God. Sometimes we see its fruit this side of heaven. Sometimes it’s on the other side. I continue to pray for you, friend.

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  2. I love how you bring this story to life, Jeanne, It is easy to become weary and resigned to our circumstances when we feel forgotten and to forget to look up to God. When we do, we see that he is there and he can move in our situation in ways far beyond what we would have expected. I love that as this man asked for money, he received so much more, and that it’s the same for us as we look to God.

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    1. Lesley, I love how God brings stories to life when I read them in His word. 🙂 I’ve definitely had seasons where I’ve struggled with resignation and forgotten to look up to (and trust in) God. Thank goodness He’s patient and faithful, eh?

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  3. Your words are powerful today. I am quick to look down and render defeat too often. I forget that looking up is just as easy and God is not going to look at me as a failure. He sees me as His daughter and He loves me dearly.

    I love how you shared our outer story may not look different but what is happening on the inside has been transformed. Only God truly knows the ins and outs of our stories and He knows we are enough. Love these words today!

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    1. Mary, you bring up such good points. The way we see ourselves and the way God sees us can be vastly different, can’t they? We need to remember He views us through a filter of infinite, perfect love. I’m so grateful for your insights here. Thank you, friend!

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  4. This passage has always meant a lot to me for many reasons as a mom to a son with cerebral palsy who is in a wheelchair. There are many ways to “look up” and it is vital to choose to do so every day. Thanks for this. Visiting from #TestimonyTuesday

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    1. Jamie, you probably know more than most the vital importance of choosing to look upward. I’m sure your son is enriched by your loving examples of looking up. Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing a bit of your story.

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  5. “t’s easier to stare down than to risk looking up and being disappointed.” I know I’ve been guilty of this! Holding onto faith and trusting that all circumstances have a reason helps me through those dark or dry times. I know I still can go into trying harder yet our God is so loving to get me back in step again with Him by His gentle reminders through circumstances, others, and the Holy Spirit. I just have to listen!

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    1. Lynn, maintaining that mindset of holding onto faith trusting that all circumstances have a reason is good. It’s not always easy to develop that mindset, but it’s freeing when we have it in place and use it as a go-to when we don’t understand or we become discouraged. I’m with you—so thankful our God redirects when we need it. 🙂 Thanks, my friend, for sharing your wisdom!

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  6. You give such beautiful insight in this story and the photos, Jeanne. I can feel the man’s shame and not daring to look up and get disappointed. I so identify with this – “My eyes get tangled in my circumstances. I look at the ground rather than the Father.” But yes, if we keep choosing to believe God’s truth instead of what our circumstances tell us, we will discover beauty. Thank you for this encouragement! Love and hugs to you!

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    1. Trudy, I’ve been there too. In that place where my eyes—and then my thoughts—get so tangled up in circumstances, I can’t see my way clear to look to God. It’s such a discipline to look to Him first, isn’t it? I’m so glad He is patient, and He loves us enough to help us learn to look to Him and trust that He looks at us through eyes of love.

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  7. Jeanne,
    Resignation, looking down, focusing on the trials of the task at hand, discouraged and caught up in the world’s answers. Enter God….look up, eyes on Him, hope in Him, focusing on His strength and not mine, trusting in His ability to bring beauty from my my ashes, looking for His healing touch. Look up – beautiful reminder!
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

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    1. Yes and amen, Bev. Keeping our focus in Him, choosing to trust in His ability to bring beauty from our ashes leaves me in awe . . . every single time. Thank you so much for being here, Bev!

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  8. What a beautiful way you have shared this story, Jeanne. It amazes me the many times God has helped me “walk” again, yet I still question Him and struggle with faith at times. I absolutely love this: “If we choose to believe God’s truth rather than what our circumstances tell us, we may just discover a bit of beauty.” I definitely am one to get bogged down in the circumstances. Thank you for this wonderful encouragement today.

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    1. Thank you, Candace. I’ve seen God help me walk (again!) many times. His grace truly amazes me. The fact that He still responds with grace when I’m questioning is humbling. Thank you so much for stopping by!

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  9. Jeanne, I’ve been pondering this very idea this week: “If we choose to believe God’s truth rather than what our circumstances tell us…” I think you’re right–making this choice sets us on the path to peace and beauty. I’d say that it’s praying for God’s will, not mine, that is helping me make this choice right now when it comes to a couple of situations over which I have little control. It’s a prayer I tend to pray in spurts, and just the other morning, I woke up to the thought that I need to go back to it again. I love the pictures you’ve posted with this … is one from the Garden of the Gods? That’s one of my favorite places on earth. 🙂

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    1. Yes, Lois! Praying for God’s will and not mine. I lived a day of His will being done, and it wasn’t all dismal. 😉 When we pray for this, and when He answers and we receive the answer, that can make all the difference in our outlooks, don’t you think? I’m like you, though. I tend to pray it in spurts. I’m trying to become more intentional in this too. 🙂

      Yes, one of those pictures is from Garden of the Gods. It’s such an amazing place!

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  10. Jeanne, you know what jumped out at me? The fact that Peter lent the man his hand. Jesus lent Peter his hand as well in order to walk on water. Yet, Peter didn’t trust in Jesus’ belief in him. Perhaps some of that experience ehoed in Peter’s head as he interacted with the crippled man.

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    1. Stephanie, I never thought about that before. Peter must have learned from his mistake of not fully trusting Jesus. He sure grew from those early days. Peter was such an example of trusting God and walking confidently on the waves of the world to reach out to people. Thanks for sharing that!

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