I love looking out over the ocean, or from any overlook – it always feels good to stretch my eyes! But there is something extra special about not just looking out over miles and miles, but being able to see something at the end of the looking. It feels like some kind of accomplishment.
From this bench high up on a hill overlooking Denver, I can see Pikes Peak (over an hour away by car) – on clear days. And on cloudy days, I know it’s there and I still strain my eyes looking for it.
I know that beauty is out there in real life, too – but unfortunately, in my everyday life, sometimes I stop looking for it.
I easily get stuck in all of the wrongness and the disappointment and the brokenness that is right in front of me. I look down at my feet as I trip over a root or a rock that runs across my path. And I become absorbed by finding other failures and mistakes in the paths… and people… in front of me.
G.K Chesterton said, “We can all see the national madness; but what is national sanity? […] The upshot of what is wrong with the world can be easily and clearly stated. What is wrong is that we do not ask what is right.”
The heavenly ideal – peace on earth, goodwill among men – is clouded over and lost. Kind people and good role models are rarer than they should be, and it is much easier to see all that is wrong in the world and in my world. Heaven feels distant and grayed-out. I am caught up in the brokenness that defines our families and neighborhoods and countries. Bad news is abundant.
But when Jesus came to earth, He parted the fog. He embodied the beauty and hope that had felt so distant and far-off. There Heaven was – opening eyes and ears, fixing lame legs, restoring life and strength, bringing genuine wholeness and peace that had been a shadowy dream before.
Even at the crucifixion, Jesus was still splitting darkness into pieces. “…for the joy set before Him, [He] endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of God the Father.” (Hebrews 12:2)
He had his eyes fixed on something much bigger and real-er and higher than the high priests could even imagine, something higher than his current state of humiliation. Something even bigger and more majestic than Pike’s Peak – the ultimate victory of Love over pain, sin, and death!
And here’s the thing… we who have experienced God’s grace in the middle of our weakness can see it, too. If I will just look up, past the patch of dead grass in front of me, past my most recent failures and disappointments, past the things that distract or define me… then I can see clearly again. There is One who transcends this earthly home and makes all things right. One who forgives and grants grace when I least deserve it.
“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18)
But mountaintops aren’t just for me or you or a few people. They are a beacon for anyone who looks up. We who have seen through the fog should be the kind of people who constantly point up instead of down, who point at lasting truth rather than present hardship, at hope rather than discouragement, at the long-range view rather than the present circumstance.
Mother Teresa says, “In the work we have to do it does not matter how small and humble it may be, make it Christ’s love in action.”
When we and the ones around us are having trouble seeing beyond this muddy, stick-strewn path we call earth, it is Christ’s love in even the smallest of our everyday actions that point us back to the most beautiful panorama anyone could ever imagine: forever, for real, for everyone, Love.
Never stop looking up – even on the cloudy days!