As I began to read Psalm 121, verse 1 halted me from the start:
I don't believe the psalmist here was drawing inspiration from the mountains, but rather from the location of Jerusalem in the midst of the mountains. Making his way to Jerusalem, the psalmist is saying in a way,"I can see the hills. I'm getting close." I remember as a child that "The Little Engine That Could" taught me that, if I try hard enough... if "I think I can, I think I can..." well, then I can! But the problem is, sometimes the battles before me are just too great. Sometimes the obstacles that loom over me are just too big.
Facing our rival, that rascal the devil, I move myself into position. He's the best at what he does and is tough as nails. So, all week long, I psyche myself up. I knock off a couple of self-help books so I can stop him in his tracks. I tell myself that I can beat this turkey and bring him down. Then comes a trial or temptation. Satan makes his play. I see him coming at me. Now is my chance, it's just he and me, one on one, and I've got a clear shot at him. So, I grab him by the horns and begin to wrestle him down, just like I've been taught.
"Far out!" I'm thinking. "I've got him!" Then, I find myself flat on my back with his hooves running all over me as he laughs his way back to his corner. After I get up, he pulls exactly the same move and comes at me again. Again, we make contact. And again, he slams me back down. With the help of my friends, I'm lifted up and aimed back in his direction as they give me a little push encouraging me with, "You can do it. Yes you can." So I turn towards him, and I'm once again thinking, "Yeah, I can do it!"
Try as I might, I just can't tackle the problems I face. No matter how much I psyche myself up, I encounter problems that are just too great for me. So then what do I do? I all too often look to someone else to give me help and although people are sometimes willing, I'm finding theyâ€™re like me and not capable.
I can remember as a high school sophomore on the wrestling team doing a set of squats during practice. With a barbell on my shoulders, I went into a deep knee bend. The coach gave each man a couple of spotters to help if we couldn't make the lift. I went down and knew I was in trouble when I heard a pop in my lower back. I called out, but the spotters were fooling around and didn't see what was happening until it was too late. I went crashing to the floor in pain. Although they were available, they were very incapable!
I'm a long time learning, but I've been thinking lately that the psalmist in the passage above has a better idea. He knew the key wasn't to look in to himself or out to his friends, but to look up to the Lord.
Then he said to me, "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts." Zechariah 4.6