Dr. Terry Pooler, Senior Pastor, Forest Lake SDA Church, Apopka, Florida

Summary: God invites us to see from His perspective. When we do, the author points out that we are given a new vision and new courage.

Changing perspective. When our attitude changes, so does our altitude. Worship be-comes therapy when our attitude switches from being a taker to a giver, from a spectator to a performer, from a comfort seeker to a God satisfier. With our focus shifting from self to God, we will find that in our attempt to please God we in turn are blessed. How does this work?

One day I brought a dead fly to church to illustrate how altitude changes perspective. Viewed through a magnifying glass, it looked like a monster! It could have been the star of a scary creature-feature monster movie. After laying down the magnifying glass, I slowly climbed an eight-foot ladder. When I reached the top, the fly was only a speck on the table. Surely it was nothing to fear. My altitude had changed my view of the problem.

We often see our problems as magnified monsters that are about to consume us. But the praise song bids us, ?I will magnify the Lord, who is worthy to be praised. So shall I be saved from my enemies.? ?Monsters? shrink when seen from God’s perspective.

Psalm 134 reads: ?Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the Lord. May the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth, bless you from Zion.? This text reminds me of my two-year old son at a crowded parade. From his perspective he can only see legs, feet, and dirt. So with arms raised he cries, ?Lift me up, Daddy.? When I elevate him to sit on my shoulders he sees what I see. His picture changes from dirt to clowns, from a forest of legs to marching bands and waving beauty queens. Altitude changes his perspective.

There are many good sermons encouraging us to look up to Jesus from the depth of our problems and find hope. But the Psalmist suggests that, like a little child, if we lift up our hearts and hands in worship, our heavenly Father will lift us up to receive a blessing. We don’t want to merely look up; we want to be lifted up, so we can see our problems from His perspective.

Daddy, lift me up. Notice that the Psalmist pictures God blessing us from His throne on Mt. Zion. The blessing is the joy of standing with Him and looking down on our problems. Listen to some thoughts from that great hymn, Higher Ground:

My heart has no desire to stay where doubts arise and fears dismay.

Though some may dwell where these abound, my prayer; my aim is higher ground.

I want to live above the world, though Satan’s darts at me are hurled.

For faith has caught the joyful sound, the song of saints on higher ground.

I want to scale the utmost height catch a gleam of glory bright.

But still I’ll pray till heaven I’ve found, ?Lord, lead me on to higher ground.?

Refrain

Lord, lift me up, and I shall stand by faith on heaven’s tableland.

A higher plane than I have found; Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.

Here a worshiper is expecting to receive a blessing, which is a foretaste of heaven. It is the blessing of being elevated in spirit to God’s higher ground, where the monsters of ours doubts and fears can be crushed as the dead little flies that they really are!

This imagery of climbing Mt. Zion in worship has an interesting biblical background.[1] Psalm 134 was a ?Song of Ascent? which the Israelites sang while ascending Mt. Zion in Jerusalem to worship God. What was another name for Mt. Zion? Mt. Moriah! The same mountain that Abraham ascended to offer Isaac as a sacrifice.

Abraham is instructed to offer Isaac as a sacrifice on Mt. Moriah. As they approach the mountain, Abraham tells his servants to stay with the donkey while he and Isaac go to ?worship and then we will come back to you.? (Gn 22:5). And as he and Isaac ascend the mountain to worship God, he has a heavy heart. Isaac is his future. The promises of being a great nation depend upon Isaac’s good health. Have you ever entered the sanctuary with a heavy heart? I doubt that any modern worshiper approaches church with less joy than Abraham did when he starts up Mt. Moriah.

Suppose Abraham had stopped half-way up the mountain. ?I just don’t feel like going up any further. I don’t feel like worshiping today. I don’t like the scenery. I don’t like the dress that other worshiper is wearing. I don’t like this order of worship.? Worshipers can easily be distracted by lesser gods and never reach the higher ground of God’s blessing. But the Lord doesn’t offer him a ?rain check? until he feels better. He bids him come up and worship because the blessing is waiting at the top, not down in the valley. If Abraham had stopped climbing, the ram of blessing would have gone unclaimed. He would have returned home with a heavy, distracted and troubled heart.

Having ?God’s eye view.? In Hebrew Moriah means: ?seen of God.? It may also be translated or interpreted to mean ?the mountain of God’s eye view.?[2] Abraham desperately needed to climb this mountain of worship and see his problem from God’s perspective. The Psalmist calls us to climb Mt. Zion (Mt. Moriah) as did Abraham. With our focus on God we ascend its heights and find its blessing, i.e. seeing our problem from ?God’s eye view.? Yes, worship is therapy!

In Revelation 4 we see a worship service where God is the audience to heaven’s praise. In Revelation 5:4 we see an enlightening development. John views a scroll of obvious importance, but he weeps because no one is found worthy to open it. But the creatures around the throne, the one’s whose worship is directed toward God see the problem from a different perspective. They sing to Jesus, ?You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals.? He who weeps has his eyes on the problem. But those closest to the throne, focusing on God in worship, see the problem from a different perspective. John needs a change of altitude so he can see things from the perspective of God on Mt. Zion.

Blue monsters disarmed. Tommy Tenney tells of the day he took his youngest daughter to an amusement park. Just as they passed through the front gate, a big seven-foot blue TV character bounced over to shake his daughter’s hand. The story continues:

?She climbed me like I was a tree. The person in the costume quickly grasped the problem and silently moved on, but the daddy in me just knew that the rest of the day had been put on hold. Every time my little girl saw some oversized character in the park, she was going to be paranoid. That meant that I had to do something.

??Come on, baby,’ I took her in my arms and felt her grip around my neck reach vertebrae-fusion level as I set out to track down the source of my daughter’s fears?I caught the blue seven-footer just before he entered the character dressing room, and I tapped on his (or its) shoulder. ?Sir?’ I said.

??Excuse me, Sir?I know you can’t really do this, and I’m sorry for asking you, but you startled my little girl. You scared her, and she’s going to be paranoid the rest of the day. Every time she sees somebody dressed up as you are, she’s going to climb my frame like a tree ?’

?The front of the costume’s mask featured a finely woven grille or screen that helped him see where he was going. If you looked closely, you could just barely make out his eyes. I’d heard these workers are forbidden to even speak, but I said, ?Sir, would you lean close enough?’

?Finally he said, ?Put her real close,’ and I breathed a grateful sigh of relief and began to reel in my overworked arm with the girl dangling on the end. I had to wrestle with her to move her closer to the blue thing, and her eyes got even bigger.

?She was so scared that her little body just shook—until that young man leaned into that grille and said softly, ?Hi, baby,’ The instant she could see his eyes, she could see that he was just a young boy.

?I said, ?See, baby, that’s just a little boy all dressed up in costume.’

?The rest of the day, whenever my little girl saw somebody in costume, she’d grab my hand and she’d look at me, then she’d say, ?Wook, Daddy. Widdle boys all dwessed up.’?[3]

Conclusion. Satan is a dragon seeking to destroy us. From our perspective he looks pretty scary. But in worship we raise our hands and hearts, ?Daddy, lift me up.? As He lifts us to higher ground we begin to see this Great Dragon (or the multitude of smaller dragons in our life) from our Father’s point of view—and he shrinks to merely a ?little boy all dressed up? to look like a dragon. We ascend the Mountain of God and are blessed with renewed strength and hope.

Now we understand the Psalmist’s joy: ?Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the Lord. May the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth, bless you from Zion.? Yes, God-focused, heart-directed worship really is therapy!

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1 I thank Tommy Tenney for this thought, gleaned from his book, God’s Eye View, Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers. 2002.

2 Ibid. p. 144.

3 Ibid. p. 182-184.

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April–June, 2003

Praise