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I love those scenes in action films, comics, or cartoons where you have one set of bad guys pursuing the hero from one end of a tunnel or corridor and another set of bad guys is converging from the other side. You know the hero is in between them, but when the groups of pursuers meet in the middle, the hero isn’t there. The two posses made of bad guys go off searching to see what they missed, and the camera angle pans up to see the hero hanging precariously on some pipes. You love it, but you always wonder why the bad guys didn’t look up. Maybe it’s because, as humans, we always have a tendency to pay more attention to what is horizontally in front of us than what is vertically above us—-to what’s right here rather than looking beyond the ordinary.

Israel felt like she had to look north to Assyria or south to Egypt, but she didn’t look heavenward. To look heavenward, she would have to admit that she was looking in the wrong place for help. To look heavenward, she would have had to admit that she was depending on her own resources and military skill, resources and skill which were both inadequate to the huge threat she faced.

The same thing is true of us today. We tend to look horizontally for solutions when we need to be looking up. We tend to look to our savings or our jobs as our providers instead of to God. We tend to look to our skills and our intellect as our protectors when we need to admit our dependence upon God. We look to our understanding, our logic, and even our prejudices before we look to the living God. Is it any wonder that we find ourselves in the squeeze between job insecurity and rising prices? Is it any wonder that we find ourselves in the middle between feeling pressed for time and frustrated and stressed because we’re not accomplishing enough? Is it any wonder that we find ourselves looking to inefficient government or greedy capitalism for answers when we should be depending upon God? Is it any wonder that we are torn between addictions (whether food, drug, materialism, or activity) or puritan self-righteousness when we should be seeking what God wants?

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