Devotional – Friday, September 4, 2020

Photo of Dak McInnis, Camp Eagle, RSVN – provided by Dak McInnis.

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD which made heaven and earth. — Psalm 121:1

At the age of ten I headed off for the first time to a week of church camp. One of the daily activities was morning devotion, a requirement I reluctantly performed. This was a fifteen-minute segment of time just after breakfast, followed by sessions of small group discussion. Instructions were to find an isolated space and meditate on a scripture of our own choice, alone and in silence. 

I found a hidden spot by the lake and selected Psalm 121 because it was short and easy to find. If I parted my Bible right in the middle, the psalm would be there just where I opened or only a page or two away. Each morning by the lake I read, I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord which made heaven and earth.

As there were no hills anywhere near our camp, my developing brain wondered if, without hills, God might not be able to help. It was a fleeting thought. Pretend that the distant clouds are hills and mountains, I concluded; issue resolved.

Help was not on my mind anyway. I focused instead on skipping small flat rocks across the lake’s surface and I needed no help with that. Such were the meditations of this ten-year-old at church camp, soon to be long forgotten.

Many years pass. As early dawn breaks, helicopter blades begin their continuous rhythmic thumping. Vibrations of out-going rocket fire shake dust from sheet metal above my head. The air is heavy, reeking of petrol fumes and smoke. The place is Camp Eagle, 101st Airborne Division, on a numbered hilltop in the Republic of South Vietnam. Every day is the same. Lonesome, weary, and doubtful, I question God as to whether I will be wounded or die in this awful and deadly place; will He help and bring me home safe and whole?

Upon taking my post this day, however, I turn my gaze toward the distance and begin to see with different eyes. The sun rising over the South China Sea is declaring the beauty and majesty of God’s creation. Streams of light reveal rocky hilltops projecting upward from a lush jungle floor. Greater mountains beyond them rise higher and higher above the clouds. King David wrote, The mountains skipped like rams, the little hills like lambs.

Suddenly, I remember. The hills and mountains remind me, My help cometh from the Lord which made heaven and earth! I recall a kid’s peace skipping rocks on a lake in Mississippi and become eager to find and read that psalm.

I sat silently alone that night, meditating far longer than fifteen minutes on Psalm 121. God began my day with verse 1, lifting mine eyes unto the hills, and concluded my day with verse 8, The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore. I was never fearful nor did I doubt from that night forward that any harm would befall me. Peace was my companion continually.

Lord, we thank you for planting the seeds of Truth, your Word, in our hearts when we neither know nor understand. Grant us your grace to be guided daily as we grow in knowledge and faith, and teach us to seek your help especially in our days of trouble. Thank you for your protection and for ordering our steps.In the name of Jesus, Amen.

Offered by Dak McInnis

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