Lead Thou me to the rock that is higher than I. Psalm 61:2
When one looks at a mountain from a distance, it is easy to see the whole thing. However, when one begins climbing a mountain, one cannot usually see the destination until he arrives at it. I am not a mountain climber, but I have driven up and over many mountains. A few years ago, we drove through the Rocky Mountains at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. We were going to drive about 50 miles from one side of the park to the other. And during this journey we were going to drive over 11,000 feet in altitude, making the road we were on the highest paved road in the United States. As we approached the range of mountains we were going to cross, we saw snow covered peaks above the tree line. We could make out some dots moving across the mountains and figured those were cars, though we could not make our the carefully camouflaged road they were on. And as we began driving, we could not see the top of the mountain anymore because we were on the side of the mountain. Many times my palms got sweaty, as we ascended higher and higher. The barrier, if you want to call it that, on the side of the road didn’t inspire much confidence that it could stop my car if it slid off the narrow road. And in many places, there was no barrier at all. I have to say that when we stopped along the way at vista points to look over the amazing views, I enjoyed those moments. I can’t say I enjoyed driving at all, I was nervous the whole way. I didn’t even fully enjoy the moments we stopped, knowing that there was more dangerous driving ahead.
The miles flew by, there were many twists and turns, and because I had never been on this road before, I didn’t know what was coming next. I confess, I did a lot of praying on that road. I could feel God comforting me. I used skill and experience built with 30 years of driving. The time passed. And the journey finished.
This year is a lot like the experience of driving on this road. We’re not sure where it’s leading. It’s scary. The journey seems fraught with danger. Many of us are relying more on prayer. And prayer is providing comfort. We’re having to rely on all of our life experience to this point to be patient.
Reflecting on the spiritual meaning of this verse, when I think of Psalm 61:2, and asking the Lord to “Lead Thou me to the rock that is higher than I,” I not only think about asking Him to lead us to heaven, the place that is higher than all of us, but to ask Him to lead me on the road of life, up this mountain of life that we are climbing. Since we are “in it,” meaning actively climbing/driving up the mountain, we can’t see exactly where we are going, as we can when we are at a distance from the mountain. We see the next curve but not what lies around it. We see the next curve but we have no idea how many more curves are coming. We see the dangerous terrain and we have no idea if this is the worst part of the journey or if the worst is yet to come. Yet, we keep driving, because finishing the journey is important. We keep praying, because we know that God will comfort us. He won’t take away the danger but He will comfort us as we pass through the midst of it. And eventually we will reach the destination, which might be something temporal, like the passing of this crisis. Or it will be our eternal destination, heaven.
When I got to the top of the mountain in Colorado, I looked down and was so inspired by the view that the journey was worth it. Even though the journey itself was not enjoyable, the view from the top made it worth the anxiety of getting there. When we reach the kingdom of God, we’ll look back at life in much the same way. Our patience in continuing will be worth it. Even though the journey might fill us with anxiety at many points, especially in the year 2020, when we have completed the journey, we will have everlasting joy to look forward to.
So, keep driving, even if you are nervous. Don’t stop, even though you don’t know how far there is to go. Don’t worry, even though you can’t see around the next curve. Because faith is about trusting God to lead us to the rock that is higher than us, which is spiritual growth in this life and everlasting joy in the eternal life.
Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to Thee, when my heart is faint. Lead Thou me to the rock that is higher than I; for Thou art my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. Let me dwell in Thy tent forever! Oh to be safe under the shelter of Thy wings! For Thou, O God, hast heard my vows, Thou hast given me the heritage of those who fear Thy name. Prolong the life of the king; may his years endure to all generations! May he be enthroned forever before God; bit steadfast love and faithfulness watch over him! So will I ever sing praises to Thy name, as I pay my vows day after day. Psalm 61
Keep making the journey!
The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website! There you may find a database for past prayer team messages as well as books by Fr. Stavros and other information about his work and St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL.
These readings are under copyright and is used by permission. All rights reserved. These works may not be further reproduced, in print or on other websites or in any other form, without the prior written authorization of the copyright holder: Reading © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA, Apolytikion of Abbot Marcellus © Narthex Press, Kontakion of Abbot Marcellus © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA.
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible is copyrighted 1946, 1952, 1971, and 1973 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and used by permission. From the Online Chapel of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
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