While speaking with my mom on the phone this past week, she shared that she finally found a large can of Bush’s vegetarian baked beans. This has been an ongoing quest since she had some about three months ago at our house. I can find a plethora of them in any of our local stores, but for some reason, in my mother’s small town in Arkansas, they are like an urban myth. At any rate, the one time she did find a can, it was a pint size one, and not really enough to feed she and my aunt whom she lives with. So, on this particular day with great excitement, my mom shared, “I found a large can of those beans Stephanie. At first I didn’t see any. I asked one of the ladies who worked in the store if she could assist me. She and I both looked, and she said, “I don’t see any either.” Then another lady who works in the store asked us what we were looking for. We told her. She looked up to the top shelf, reached for a can, handed it to me and kept walking. I said, “Thank you!” I couldn’t believe that I’d missed it, or rather, we’d missed it. All we had to do was look up!” Now, I was super excited that my mom had her beans, but I was even more enthusiastic as she spoke a very gentle, yet powerful reminder to look up! In a world that offers so much, yet often delivers far less, we mustn’t forget that there is power and great blessing, accessible and within our reach, when we look up!
Its quite an intentional posture to assume. To look up is to see far beyond what is immediately visible or tangible. Looking up doesn’t necessarily reflect the movement of one’s head directed toward heaven, but instead, one’s innermost being, one’s soul intermingled with faith, knowing that the most high God is in full control of whatever you need him to be. It must become a learned behavior. We live in a society that preaches self-promotion and self-proclamation so much to the extent that the world would have you to believe that anything you possess is solely by one’s personal level of assertion. Certainly, we are not expected to sit idly by without making effort, but ultimately our attainment is largely due to the blessings of God being bestowed upon us, despite us.
As believers, when we are under duress and under attack, we look up! We look up and seek God for deliverance, healing, assistance, and (fill in the blank). We expect a response. Further, we expect the response to be favorable, reflecting our will, regardless if it aligns with God’s will or not. Yet, God desires for us to look up not only when we are in trouble, but instead as a daily component of our lived experiences. As we practice, we develop a discipline of looking up. When we do so, we are literally training our mind, soul, heart and spirit to follow suit and align itself with the purposes of God. We begin to see plenty where there is famine, hope where there is despair, wholeness when there is brokenness and courage where there is fear. In other words, we see the beans!
There are great benefits of beans. They pack a lot of fiber, making us feel full. As we develop relationship with God, we may appreciate those around us, but they fail in comparison to God. We lovingly look and depend upon him as the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), and we realize that he is more than enough! Secondly, beans are good for digestion. Others around us can be tough, and break us down. However, we may view it as God’s allowance so that we will bring our brokenness to him for restoration. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18). But he doesn’t just leave us there. We are affirmed by “The joy of the Lord is our strength,” (Nehemiah 8:10). Beans can help us keep our weight in check. Who doesn’t need that?! We can be overwhelmed, and often, we carry that which was unloaded at Calvary. Hebrews 12:1 commands, “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” We desire things to end quickly, yet we run with baggage. As we relinquish that which is God’s in his hands, we will actually reach our destination in a healthier manner. Finally, beans are high in vitamin B which provides energy. When we are at our wit’s end, and we are spiritually empty, we can look up Jeremiah 31:25, where we may embrace God’s loving words, “I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.”
Just so we are clear, in case beans are not your thing, make sure that God is. As a child, we sang, “beans, beans, good for you heart, the more you eat, the more you…” you get the picture. But the more we find relationship with God, the more we rid ourselves of the things that don’t matter and are not tied to our purpose. Although beans come in all shapes, sizes and hosts various flavors, contrarily, there is one God, satisfying and meeting the needs of each one of us individually as well as collectively. “Oh taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8), but don’t forget the last portion of the verse, “blessed is the man that trusteth in him.” We learn to trust by our posture. Look up!