A Digital Refresh – May 25, 2020: In the Highlands and the Heartache

Mini-Yo-We

Today’s reflection comes from Pat Sutherland. He is the director of our discovery camp and the director of discipleship. 

Today’s reading: Psalm 121

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
-Psalm 121:1-2

One of our most popular songs this summer was the song: “Highlands.”

It was a regular feature during our LIT worship, during our refresh sessions, and there hasn’t been a staff/LIT retreat through this year that hasn’t included this song.

Its words are beautiful.

I find them regularly coming to mind and all the more these days.

“So I will praise You on the mountain
And I will praise You when the mountain’s in my way
You’re the summit where my feet are
So I will praise You in the valleys all the same
No less God within the shadows
No less faithful when the night leads me astray
You’re the heaven where my heart is
In the highlands and the heartache all the same”

I’ve often struggled with this song.

Mainly because it is a really easy song to sing when we are on the mountain and a lot harder to sing when the mountain is in our way.

I’m convinced that this song is best sung in good times. A song for the times when everything seems great, when we are at the top of the mountain, and the times when it is very clear that God’s faithfulness is strong. It’s in these mountaintop moments that we should be inspired to sing the praise of God over the best times and the worst. Because God remains faithful in both. It’s just easier to sing when our voices are strong.

But here we find ourselves walking through unclear territory as a pandemic radically shapes our lives, changes our summer plans, and robs us of things we hold dear.

And I find myself challenged by the words that I sang in the best of days. Can I keep singing them?

It’s here that I turn to Psalm 121.

A psalm that begins with eyes looking up to the mountain. And if there was a psalm that gives the words we need in the low valley story of Highlands it is this one:

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

When I was a camper we used to sing a simple version of Psalm 121. It focused on the first line and the critical question: where does my help come from? To say it another way: how can I praise you from the valley?

In this season, it seems all the more appropriate to be asking this question. It’s not that the answer is unclear, but because the answer is that much more needed.

Life is full of mountain top moments and valley-like lows. And in the midst of it, we have the assurance that our help has come from the Lord and will continue to come from him.

So while we might all be feeling some deep valley sadness I want to encourage you that as the song says God is no less God within the shadows.
God is no less faithful when the night leads us astray.

And though it is difficult, we can continue to praise God even when the mountain is in our way.

Your friend,

Pat

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A Digital Refresh is a regular series for the staff at Mini-Yo-We.
When we gather together for worship and learn from God’s word we call it “Refresh.” Even though we aren’t at camp we can still gather together to share God’s word through a Digital Refresh.

For more resources check out our summer staff resource page.