Tuesdays with Sarah… You Gotta Keep Your Head Up

I recently wrote a blog titled ‘Jagged Little Pill’, which basically talked about the hard stuff we have to do to make things better in our lives. My jagged little pill is exercising.  So I’m slowly but surely making progress.  I should be farther along than I am, but at least I am moving in the right direction!

So one day, I decided to go out for a walk. Now that the weather is getting a little warmer and the days are getting a little longer, I’m trying to incorporate some walks around the neighborhood.  I got my shoes on, my sunglasses on, grabbed my phone and my ear buds, and hit the pavement.  I was listening to my music, pushing myself up the hills, eyes down towards the ground, trying to make the most of this walk.

My view – pavement and manholes…

But did you notice that? My eyes were down toward the ground… just focusing on the gray pavement and manhole covers.  All the while, missing the beautiful scenery all around me.  As I was turning around in one of the many cul-de-sacs in my neighborhood, I happened to lift my head.  And wowza, what a blue sky God had given us that day!  And I almost missed it, because I had my head down, focusing on the goal of trying to get through the walk (and pretty much hating it), instead of being aware of the beauty all around.

My walks turned around after that. Instead of dreading them, I looked forward to them.  I noticed the personal touches my neighbors had made to their homes.  I noticed little waves and nods from my neighbors.  I noticed the children playing and riding their bikes.  I noticed people’s dogs and cats.  I noticed the color of the sky and the clouds.  I noticed the trees and the flowers.  I noticed God.

The beautiful blue sky I almost missed…

It made me think of the verse Psalm 3:3 that says, “But You, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.” How many times do we have our heads down, missing all that God wants to show us?

There are three reasons that I know of that keep people from lifting their heads. The first, I just described:  the GRIND.  Heads down, trying to GET STUFF DONE.  Just like I was doing with my walk.  Although you might be productive in life, you aren’t participating in life.  You are missing the life that is going on all about you by trying to make a life.

Second thing that keeps our heads down is DISTRACTION.  Of course, I’m mainly talking about cell phones.  We are constantly telling our girls to ‘get off their phones’.  Which they are quick to say, “Well, you and Papa are always on your phones.”  And to be honest, they are right.  We are on our phones a lot.  We justify it by saying it’s work-related or ministry-related.  But we are missing out on our children’s formative years due to having our eyes glued to tiny screens.  And that is the example we are showing our kids.  No wonder they are on their phones all the time… they are imitating their parents.  We may not be using the same apps that they use, but the results are the same.  We are missing out on life, and in particular, life with our children.  We have just a few years of them actually living under our roofs.  It’s a shame to think that we wasted that precious time by all sitting in the same room looking at 4 separate screens, not engaging each other at all…  not even really knowing each other.  Put the phones down, lift your heads, and engage your family.

My family all on their iDevices 😦

Our youth, with all their heads down… (except Zoe for once!)

Third thing that keeps our vision downcast is SHAME.  We are ashamed of our past, or even of our present, therefore we keep our heads down so that maybe no one will really look at us.  I read a book a few years ago called ‘Under the Overpass’.  It was about 2 college aged men, Mike Yankoski and Sam Purvis, who spent several months living as homeless men in 6 different American cities.  It was an eye-opening read, teaching me so much about the problem of homeless in our country.  One thing they wrote in the book is how most homeless people will not look you in the eye.  Even when people are trying to talk to them, they will continue to keep their heads down, out of shame.  But the other thing is that the non-homeless people will not really ever ‘look’ at them either, because if it’s just ignored, then maybe they (we) won’t be held accountable to help.  So homeless and non-homeless go around not looking at each other, one out of shame and the other out of comfort or lack there of.  And while we are all not looking at each other, keeping our heads down, we are missing a blessing by not engaging one another.

“Under the Overpass”, the book that changed my heart towards homeless people

The fact is, we aren’t really any different now than those from the Bible. There were several who had their heads down, where God had to intervene and ‘lift their heads’. In Luke 10, we read about the famous sisters Mary and Martha, where Martha had her head down focused on the grind.

 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.  She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.  But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” – Luke 10:38-42

Martha, being the ever impressive hostess, had her head down, getting things done so that her guest would feel like He mattered and was important. She was distracted by the grind of cooking and setting the table and whatever else was necessary for Jesus to experience hospitality.  Mary on the other hand, sat down at the Lord’s feet, listening to Him.  To Martha, it appeared as though Mary was just being lazy and leaving all the work to her, even to the point that she ‘told’ on Mary to Jesus!  But Jesus took the moment to gently and lovingly remind Martha that being in His presence is ‘better’ than all the ‘busyness’ we tend to get wrapped up in.  Mary truly was being ‘present’ with the Lord – sitting at His feet, head up, eyes focused, experiencing Him.  She had chosen what was ‘better’.

King David is another who had his head down… but his was due to distraction.  In 2 Samuel 11, we read where David got up from his bed and walked around the roof on his palace.  He looked down and saw a beautiful woman bathing.  He sent someone to find out who she was and had her summoned to him.   She was Bathsheba and was married to Uriah the Hittite.

David ended up sleeping with her, and she became pregnant. To try and cover up his indiscretion, he had Uriah brought back in from battle (he was a soldier) under the façade of inquiring about the battle.  He then told him to go home and see his wife (as a gift).  David fully expected Uriah to go home and sleep with his wife, and then the pregnancy would be covered up.

Unfortunately for David, Uriah was a man of character and did not sleep with Bathsheba. He didn’t think it was fair for him to receive this gift when his fellow soldiers were still out fighting and sleeping  in the open country.   David, in a last desperate move to hide his sin, had the army commander put Uriah on the frontline so that he would be killed.  This plan worked.  Uriah died.  After a time of mourning, David had Bathsheba brought into his house and she became his wife.

Scripture tells us that “the thing David had done displeased the Lord.” His distraction became the Lord’s displeasure.  And if you think about it, our distractions also cause Him displeasure.  Some of the things we are distracted by may not be bad in and of themselves, but anything that comes before the Lord is displeasing to Him.  I’m sure God doesn’t think playing Candy Crush is bad thing…  but if I constantly choose to do that over spending time with Him, I’m certain that would bring Him displeasure.  Exodus 34:14 says that our God is a ‘jealous God’.  When my children choose other things over spending time with me, it displeases me.  It makes me sad.

Many people in the Bible had their heads down due to shame. But the one story that stands out to me most is the woman caught in adultery in John 8.  I love Mel Gibson’s portrayal of this story in his movie Passion of the Christ.  You can see the scene here:

The Passion of the Christ – Adulterous Woman Scene

The Pharisees and teachers of the law had caught a woman in adultery. They brought her to Jesus referencing the fact that the Mosaic Law said she deserved to be stoned and asked for his opinion.  Jesus then bent down and started to write something in the dirt with his finger.  They continued to question him, so he finally stood up and answered them saying, “Let anyone who is without sin cast the first stone.” (v.7)  He bent back down and continued to write in the sand.  The Pharisees dropped their stones and left, leaving Jesus alone with the woman.

In the movie, all you see is the foot of Jesus and her hand barely above the ground coming into the shot as she reaches towards his foot. Her head finally comes into view, downward, barely off of the ground.  So ashamed at what she had done.  She then slowly raises her head and sees that Jesus is looking at her.  He then grabs her hand and slowly helps raise her to her feet.  Her head that hung with shame now was lifted in adoration and gratefulness.

Woman Caught in Adultery

This past winter, Scott had borrowed a camper from a friend of ours for duck hunting season. We returned it back to him a few weeks ago.  On our way there, several thunderstorms rolled through northeast Alabama.  As we returned home, God put on a beautiful lightning display for our enjoyment… and I almost missed it.

See, I had my head down, looking at iTunes, trying to download some worship songs for our ride home. I kept hearing Scott make comments like, “whoa, that was awesome.”  Then he would breathe this kinda weird huff that he does when he’s frustrated with me.  Finally he said, “You got to stop looking down.  You’re missing all the good stuff.”  Wow, did that strike a chord with me!  I put my phone down and immediately watched our own personal fireworks show put on by the one and only Creator of the universe.

The fact is, many times our head is down even doing good things, like looking for worship songs. And all the while, God is doing extraordinary things all around us and WE ARE MISSING IT.  It’s time for an exchange.  I call it the ‘S and P Exchange’.  For those whose heads are down due to the grind, exchange the pavement for the sky.  For those whose heads are down due to distraction, exchange those screens for people.  And finally, for those whose heads are down due to shame, exchange your shame for pride.  Not earthly pride that says, “Look at me”, but heavenly pride that says, “Look at Him”. So heads up, friends!  There is much to see.  Let’s quit missing the good stuff.

“But You, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.” – Psalm 3:3


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1 Response to Tuesdays with Sarah… You Gotta Keep Your Head Up

  1. Pingback: Tuesdays with Sarah… Waves of Mercy, Waves of Grace | Scott and Sarah Smyth

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