Sitting on some uncomfortable bleachers, wishing I had brought some kind of back support, I watched my youngest son swim laps with his class in Lawrence, MA, this past week. He has received swim instruction here for seven years. I don’t even have to tell them he has special needs because they are so good with every child. I’m convinced the program manager can see directly into the heart and inner workings of each child within the first few minutes. She has an amazing ability to meet each child where his or her fears are and identify strengths and weaknesses. She knows what is holding them back.
As I sat there in this rare moment observing Little Man at one of his happiest places—water—I wondered if I could get away with a few glances here and there to my Kindle. I thought I was being so sly, looking up whenever I anticipated it was his turn to work on a skill in a group of five children. My timing was almost perfect.
Lifting my eyes after reading a half-page, I noticed something I wasn’t expecting this time around: Even at 10 years old, becoming more independent by the minute, my Little Man
still looks for me!
After every accomplishment, he wanted to emerge from the water to meet my eyes. He counted on my silent nod, my approving smile—even my admiration.
And I asked myself this question:
Do I look to God this way?
Do I act, knowing He’s watching? (He is.)
Do I speak, realizing He hears me? (He does.)
Do I interact in a way with others where I would feel comfortable glancing up to my Father in heaven, knowing He is proud of me?
Do I live my life in all ways, looking up, seeking the approval of my God, my Savior, my Lord?
What about you?
The nation of Israel was reminded that when it relied on the Lord, He brought them victory. The Bible is very clear that God was searching to offer support to His people when their “hearts were blameless,” but it’s also true that He sees when our actions do not reflect a pure heart, and there are consequences to that as well.
2 Chronicles 16:8-9, ESV, Ezra narrating
“Were not the Ethiopians and the Libyans a huge army with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet because you relied on the LORD, he gave them into your hand.
For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him. You have done foolishly in this, for from now on you will have wars.”
If we have a distant, scary, intimidating view of God, we may find this a bit much to take in. That’s because we’re only looking at the consequence part—not the heart of God. The heart of God wants to support us, give us backing, bring us to higher places, and save us from our enemies—and from ourselves.
So what’s the catch?
I believe if we look closely at this passage, we can see that all it takes is the “relied on the Lord” part. That sounds so simple, so what does it even mean?
To discuss what I believe it means, let’s go back to our swim class analogy.
On our own, we see with our cloudy goggles, the ones blurry from the chlorine of how we try to clean up our own path to swim in. We think we’ve got our mess all covered and sanitized, but we still long for approval. We still need a nod from somewhere. Somehow, no matter how many laps we take, we never grow too old to want to be noticed, to matter.
So we look up, waiting to see if He’s really there. Does He really care about the small and big details of our lives?
Or maybe the water in front of us seems pretty clear right now:
- No major crisis is afoot.
- Relationships are stable.
- Income is meeting needs.
- Health reports are favorable.
So we take a few laps, feel pretty good about ourselves, have some peaceful moments, and yet still something is missing.
Then we hit a rocky patch of one or more of these life stressors:
- Our marriage tenses up.
- Finances tighten.
- Loss happens.
- Betrayal catches us unawares.
- Dreams don’t go as envisioned.
Suddenly, we’re desperately looking around wondering if God is going to “show up,” and yet, we’ve missed the entire point.
He already “showed up.” He sent His Son to a cross for us. As long as we accept that free gift, we are securely His, and He is always with us.
Do you know what that means?
He isn’t looking down from time to time at His Kindle, unlike me. As a parent, He is always watching—not to look for what we do wrong (although He sees that, and there are certainly consequences), but to see what we
As was explained to Israel:
The eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.
That, right there, is the very heart of God toward us. He longs to find us reflecting His heart.
My youngest son looked to me because I am safe, mostly reliable, one of his biggest cheerleaders, and eager to share in his joys and achievements.
How more so the Father is toward us, His children!
Ecclesiastes 3:11, ESV, King Solomon speaking
He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.
The Bible says that we have eternity in our hearts. That essentially means we are meant to have life
Our sins no longer separate us from God when we accept what #Jesus did for us.
— Bonnie Lyn Smith (@BonnieLynSmith) October 14, 2016
Eternity = a God-sized ache in our hearts that can only be filled by looking up, living in relationship with God through His Son Jesus. Nobody else’s approval meets that need.
Believe me, I’ve tried.
I delighted in catching my son’s eyes this week at his swim lessons. I scanned the pool looking for his red head to see what I could catch him doing well, so I could encourage him in it.
He still looks for me—and I him.
That’s relationship, Folks. And if we can wrap our minds around it, that’s exactly what God wants with us.
I promise you, when you glance up, whether in good times or in bad, and call upon His name, you will find Him looking back, cheering you on when He sees some of His heart mirrored in you. He will likely also be encouraging you that you can do better in other areas.
He loves to watch you, and He came to you in your humanness, “gentle and lowly in heart.” If Jesus can humble himself to walk this earth and die a death on our behalf, and all you really have to do to receive it is look up, what’s stopping you?
Matthew 11:29, ESV, Jesus speaking
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
#Eternity = a God-sized ache in our hearts only filled by living in relationship with God through Jesus. Nothing else meets that need.
— Bonnie Lyn Smith (@BonnieLynSmith) October 14, 2016
*This blog was first a featured column at Your Tewksbury Today.
**It has also been shared at any link highlighted here: Mom 2 Mom Monday Link-Up, Make a Difference Mondays, Pick Your Pin Tuesday, Worshipful Wednesdays, Women With Intention Wednesdays, Grace & Truth, A Little R & R, RaRa Link-Up, Me, Coffee & Jesus, Dance With Jesus, Blessing Counters, Coffee & Conversation, Saturday Soiree, Tell His Story, Find Stability, So Much at Home, Faith-Filled Fridays, Reflect His Love and Glory Link-Up, Bonbon ‘n Coffee Linkup, and Christian Mommy Blogger.
Anecdotal stories about an everyday relationship with God can be found in Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day (includes Book Club Discussion Questions).