The year is 2020.
We live in the Pacific northwest.
The season if it were any other year would be fall, but this is 2020 and so the season is FIRE.
There are wildfires all around our state, and the neighboring states.
Smoke is a constant.
There are hills across from us in our little town of Ephrata. We are less than a mile away. Yesterday morning I couldn’t see the hills because of the smoke. 2 days ago, we couldn’t see the sun because of the smoke.
I read this portion of the Psalms this morning:
I look up to the mountains—
does my help come from there?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth!
Ps 121:1-2 NLT
I heard in a sermon recently that the reason the psalmist mentioned the hilltops is that the top of the hills and mountains were where the people had set up altars of worship to other gods. The psalmist was looking over at the false worship and saying, “Nope, I will not go there for help, my help comes not from a god who people have to go out of there way to worship, to climb a mountain in hopes of getting closer to them. No! My help comes from the Lord, the God who made the hills and mountains and made the heavens that exist above the mountains. I don’t have to go anywhere to be near him, He is everywhere. Because he loves me, He is near me.”
In my life and world, Smoke has covered up the mountains so even if I was looking to them for help, I couldn’t see them. This year of 2020 has exposed much of what we as a culture have depended on to support us, has exposed it all as weak, frail and undependable. God has stood silently by waiting for us to call out to Him.
Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the God who made it all.
When Jesus was talking to a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well they discussed where to worship, Jesus had this to say about that, I’ll start where the woman asks Jesus where to worship.
19 “Sir,” the woman said, “you must be a prophet. 20 So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim,[c] where our ancestors worshiped?”
21 Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. 23 But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. 24 For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”
25 The woman said, “I know the Messiah is coming—the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
26 Then Jesus told her, “I am the Messiah!”[d]
If the hills or the little gods on the hills are our help, what do we do when smoke blocks their view. If we can’t see them, can they see us? But I don’t have to worry. I serve a God who is Spirit. He is everywhere at the same time. He never loses sight of me. He isn’t closer when I am elevated or further away when I am in a valley. He is always with me. Even if I stray away from him, he tracks me down because he is a loving father and is like the best of good shepherds and he will find me and bring me back.
Little g gods are no help because they are not capital G God. There is no help outside of God. Life in 2020 is full to the brim of scary things that make us cry out for help. From the virus that has us all hiding, to the toilet paper shortage, and all the other deprivations and sufferings and now there is fire raging and even those not threatened by the flames are being sickened by the smoke. Where does my help come from? Where does your help come from? Does it come from something somewhere where circumstances can separate us from help?
My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven of earth. Nothing can separate me from him. Will you reach out to him today?