Navel-Gazing

Navel-gazing is the habit of excessive contemplation on a single issue at the expense of being able to see the wider view of the bigger picture. The image that comes to mind with this phrase is a person with their head bent low, not looking up and not engaging in the world around them. Focusing on their own navel, they never see what God is doing in the midst of their crisis.

Today’s beautiful psalm begins with an antidote to navel-gazing. The psalmist reminds us to look up. It is an instruction to lift up our eyes and look heavenward. This is what he did, and he saw God’s presence.

Psalm 121 (New International Version)

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.

Whatever you are dealing with right now, ask yourself this: where does your help come from? Too often we look the wrong direction for direction. We look to social media to confirm our bias. We look to alcohol and drugs to numb our distress. We look to gossip and over-sharing to assuage our anxiety. We look to movies and television to help us ignore reality. We look in all the wrong places because they are easy to obtain. But our only real help comes from the Lord. Lift up your eyes!

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.

This is a powerful reminder of what happens when we look to God to help us and completely yield our situation to him. He won’t let your foot slip. In all of those moments when you awaken at 4:00 in the morning and can’t get back to sleep because your problems keep running through your mind, God is already on watch.

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.

Psalm 121 is a pilgrimage song that was sung as the people journeyed to Jerusalem. They had to walk over hills and through valleys that were surrounded by mountains. There was danger on the road. Robbers would hide in the hills and attack them. The sun beat down on them by day and the moon exposed their position by night. But God provided a protection of shade for them, as he will for you.

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.

Knowing that God watches over us is a blessing of comfort and assurance. The promise that God will keep you from harm is something you can count on now, and forevermore. When we entirely yield our lives to his safe keeping, we walk in his peace. When that happens, the only kind of navel-gazing you will need is to bow your head in a prayer of submission and thanksgiving and let it all go to him.

The Lord is your keeper! Thanks be to God.

I Lift Up My Eyes by David Bevel Jones

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