Since I’m not trained to know which keys are what direction, I have to look down at the keyboard. You’d think, after typing for 40 years, that I’d know the keyboard by now. Because I’m looking down, I don’t realize what mistakes I’ve made until I look up again. Sometimes I don’t realize I accidentally hit the “Caps Lock” button until I look up and see a sentence or two capitalized. Sometimes I highlight something to delete or move, and when I look up again, I can’t even recognize my paragraph because somehow my highlighting shifted and caught more words than I meant for it to. I’m abundantly thankful for Control+Alt+Z to undo my last action! Other times, I miss a prompt that would have saved me a few keystrokes.
I may not be able to help looking down at a keyboard: my (bad) habits have been ingrained for so long, I don’t know if a typing class could help me now.
But this continual looking down reminds me of a character in the second half of John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. Part 1 of the story focuses on Christian; Part 2 features his wife, Christiana. In one scene, the Interpreter takes Christiana to a room “where was a man that could look no way but downwards, with a Muckrake in his hand. There stood also one over his head with a Celestial Crown in his Hand, and proffered to give him that Crown for his Muck-rake ; but the man did neither look up, nor regard; but raked to himself the Straws, the small Sticks, and Dust of the Floor.”
Then said Christiana, “I persuade myself that I know somewhat the meaning of this: For this is a Figure of a man of this World : Is it not, good Sir?”
“Thou hast said the right,” said he, “and his Muck-rake, doth shew his Carnal mind. And whereas thou seest him rather give heed to rake up Straws and Sticks, and the
Dust of the Floor, than to what he says that calls to him from above with the Celestial Crown in his Hand ; it is to show, that Heaven is but as a Fable to some, and that things here are counted the only things substantial. Now whereas it was also shewed thee, that the man could look no way but downwards, it is to let thee know that earthly things when they are with Power upon Men’s minds, quite carry their hearts away from God.”
Then said Christiana, “O! deliver me from this Muck-rake.”
“That Prayer,” said the Interpreter, “has lain by till ’tis almost rusty: Give me not Riches, is scarce the Prayer of Prov. 30. 8. One of ten thousand. Straws, and Sticks, and Dust, with most, are the great things now looked after.”
With that Mercy and Christiana wept, and said, “It is alas! too true.”
I assume this was in the days of dirt floors, so this man’s task was a necessary one. But it wasn’t the only thing in life that needed his attention. He was so caught up in the everyday tasks that he missed the most important things.
In the parable of the sower, Jesus described some “who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.”
We can get so caught up with the cares of this word, can’t we? Floors have to be cleaned, as well as the rest of the house, errands run, meals cooked, laundry washed, dried, and folded, family tended to, and so on, and so on, and so on. And then the desire for other things distracts our thoughts.
But we need to take time to look up.
Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name; by the greatness of his might and because he is strong in power, not one is missing. (Isaiah 40:26, ESV).
All our tasks and pursuits here are only temporary. There’s a greater reality beyond our muckraking.
Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished (Isaiah 51:6).
And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh (Luke 21:28).
The muckraker didn’t believe in anything higher to look up to. Let’s not follow his mistake.
They shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son (Zechariah 12:10b).
Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else (Isaiah 45:22).
And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. (John 12:32).
Even after salvation, we have to continually remind ourselves to keep the right perspective, to put God first, to seek His ways.
My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up (Psalm 5:3).
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth (Colossians 3:1-2, ESV).
And we need to look from our pursuits to minister to others:
Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest (John 4:35b).
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:4-5a, ESV).
God has given us good work to do, but He never meant for those tasks to eclipse Him. Much of our life and ministry is in the mundane, everyday moments of life. But that work and those moments are given meaning by the time we look up to Him. It’s vital to spend time with Him, and then carry those thoughts we gain from His Word back into our everyday lives.
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. ~ Hebrews 12:2a
O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
Helen H. Lemmel, 1922