Monday, October 21, 2013
From Where Does our Help Come Genesis 32:22-31, Psalm 121, 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5, Luke 18:1-8
Where Does Our Help Come From I have a habit that really annoys Heather, actually probably a couple… But the one that I am thinking about this morning is probably less of a habit and more of a mannerism, I have a tendency to ask a question but before anybody else answers it, I answer it myself. I do this enough that every time it happens it is pointed out to me. I can’t think of an example off the top of my head but often includes locating something. Much like the psalmist who wrote today’s psalm. I’m not sure that he is afflicted with what Heather has affectionately called refrigerator blindness but he is in a desperate need to locate something. And often times asking the question is part of finding the answer as we see in the first two verses of today’s psalm. I lift up my eyes to the hills— from where will my help come? 2 My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. You see often times people look inward for help and never find it. Sometimes we look to other just as flawed people for help and walk away let down and betrayed. Sometimes we look to imperfect and finite things for help and end up as empty as before, the latest fix just leaves as craving the next fix. But today’s psalmist found the help he needed by looking to the Lord. After asking the question the psalmist goes on to describe the nature of this help. There seems to three key words in his description of God’s help, keeping, watching, and preserving. These things all speak to me about God’s unfailing and everlasting presence in our lives. Those other places we go for help will run dry and run out. But God’s help, his protection, his comfort, and his blessings begin at conception and are eternal. Jacob also realized that ultimately he needed to depend on God. His whole life he schemed and worked for what he wanted, even if it belonged to others. He planned on how to steal his brother Esau’s birthright out from under him, he went 7 years working to earn the right to marry the love of his life. And in so doing he became a well-off influential man. But he knew something was missing. Today we meet him as he prepares to attempt reconciliation with his brother, his past misdeeds weighed on him and this was a difficult task. He needed strength and assurance from the well that doesn’t run dry. That is what leads us to today’s encounter with this holy angelic stranger. The encounter is what he needed but it wasn’t too pleasant. It is often described as a wrestling match and Jacob walked away with a limp. Asking for help isn’t always easy, and sometimes receiving help is downright hard. Sometimes help is good and necessary but not comfortable, it may call for a drastic change of perspective or lifestyle. Sometimes improvement of our circumstances or conditions call for pain and struggle, sometimes looking to the hills for help after looking elsewhere for so long comes with a brightness that can hurt our eyes. I am reminded of the quote from the Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe. “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” You see the help that today’s psalmist talks about isn’t about being comfortable or even happy, we can find other things to make us happy or comfortable. God’s help however is about drawing us closer to Him, seeing the world in the way He wants us too, choosing right over wrong and good over evil more often than not, and it is about not letting guilt cripple us when we don’t. Those of you who are parents may understand this kind of help better than others. Sometimes the most helpful thing we can do for our children is say no and make them do homework or errands, those things we would never choose to do on our own yet will work to make us better people. Creating boundaries is a necessary job of any parent, especially our Father in heaven. Yes, this morning Jacob walked away with a limp. But what a blessed limp it was. For with that limp Jacob walked right into the open arms of his estranged brother. With that limp he walked right into a new identity, Jacob receives a new name, Israel, one who has wrestled with God, an identity that will be claimed by a whole nation of God’s people. People who know as our psalmist reminds us the undying and unsleeping hand and care of their Lord and God. That is another thing I really liked in the psalm. The author makes the connection between God being the keeper of Israel and your keeper. Your relationship with God isn’t some private matter exists because of some decision you made in a vacuum. We can look to the hills for our help because God has made us part of His family through the nurture of the church. We have spent some time over the last couple weeks in 2nd Timothy. And we learned that he became a disciple of Christ through the raising of his mother and grandmother, this is how faith happens from being part of a family. This morning we get to welcome Tyler into that family. Like Jacob he will receive a new name, beloved son of God. His parents and Godparents will make a promise to raise him up as best they can to know his help is in the Lord. This entire community will make a promise to prayerfully support this family as they answer that call. For have great news to share, as stewards of the Gospel we are called to constantly remind those people around us that we are sons and daughters of a God who doesn’t sleep or slumber, a God whose caring watch and empowering hands are never far off, no matter how far we may think we stray from Him. This is the God we turn to for help day and night as the parable reminds us. This God does not weary of our prayers and His blessings don’t run out.