Yesterday we took a group of visiting women to Petra, one of the most amazing sites on earth. It truly is breathtaking. I always wonder just how the Nabateans accomplished something so amazing. They had no cranes, no power tools, and yet their creation has withstood the test of time. It is a marvel.
As we started our journey to this ancient city, the path was easy. We were walking through almost a cavern, so we were protected from the harsh sun. A slight breeze kissed our faces as I pointed out various things. I kept looking up to observe the beauty of the various rock formations. There were little trees and plants growing out of the stones and they simply amaze me. We laughed and took pictures as we ambled along.
But then the terrain changed. It became sandier and there were rocks everywhere. We maintained our conversation, but had to keep our eyes to the ground so we wouldn’t trip over a stone. We moved more slowly and our talk turned from the majesty of our surroundings to things in our “normal” life.
After a short break for camel rides and marveling over the treasury, we continued on. The ground was just as sandy and rocky, only now the sun was beating down on us. I found myself focused on what was on the ground right in front of me, weary from the heat and thankful for my camel pack that provided me with ample water. It was hard to stay together because everyone was looking down. Thoughts on dehydration and whether or not to eat the apple now or save it for later plagued my mind as we trudged through the burning sand.
And then I happened to look up.
I had been so focused on where to step and the heat from the sun, I almost missed the beauty of magnificent buildings carved into the side of the imposing mountain. I paused, called to the others, called again because they couldn’t hear me over the din of the donkeys and camels and children peddling rocks. Then one be one each turned to look in the direction I was pointing and stood, mouth agape, marveling at something no human should be able to create.
After awhile, we turned back, knowing that some in our little band had already reached beyond their physical limits. Seeing the weariness on their faces, we put them in a cart that would carry them the rest of the way back to the gate and we continued our trek back.
As we reached the end of our journey, I began contemplating my journey through Petra. There have been times in my life where the road has been easy. Life has been good. Like the trees growing out of the rocks, those times were full of surprise blessings. I was able to keep my gaze upward as I marveled at all God was doing.
Other times, life is more difficult and I find myself focused on what’s right in front of me. Things are so hard, I can’t even tear my gaze away for a second in fear of falling. But I miss so much. There are little blessings and beautiful things to see even in the hard times. How often have I missed something simply because I was too focused on the current situation? Sometimes, it’s good to pause, take a step back and see what God is doing.And then there are the times I have been so tired, so weak, so weary from the journey that I simply can’t continue on for another step. The sun has sapped all my energy. I’m thirsty, my joints ache and I wonder if I’ll be able to finish. And in those times, there are horse carts ready and waiting to take me to the gate. To carry me so I can see everything else that’s going on around me. A time where I can regroup, take a rest and prepare for the next phase of the journey. A chance to observe other things and let my eyes rise again to the beauty of God and his work.
How much have I missed keeping my eyes to the ground, not trusting that God will take care of everything? How many little blessing at has God showered me with that went unnoticed simply because I wasn’t looking? (Tweet this.)
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. (Psalm 121:1-8 NIV)