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Mary Beth and I at GA camp. We both loved short hair. I chose this picture featuring Mary Beth’s gymnastics and my unfortunate matching clothing in lieu of the one where I’m sporting a fanny pack.

It’s Guest Post Fortnight on Known & Renowned! Today’s post was written by Mary Beth Davidson. Mary Beth is one of my oldest friends. We grew up reading books, exercising our imaginations through stories and adventures, going to church camps, and terrorizing our younger brothers together. For as long as I can remember, Mary Beth has had a passion for international missions. Most recently, she worked with City of Hope in Tanzania. She is now back in the U.S., continuing her education to become a long-term missionary. 

Lately I’ve been observing. As a member of the praise team at my church, I get the opportunity to worship from a stage where I can see the entire congregation worshiping together. I scan the faces and watch as people enter into the presence of the Lord. Some look as if they have died on the way from the door to their pew and return vacant stares as they choke out the words to the worship songs. Some close their eyes, bowing their heads in thoughtful prayer and quiet contemplation. Others raise their hands in full surrender and pray the words to heaven. Others softly but earnestly sing with a smile on their lips as they quietly proclaim the message of the song in their own heart.

But as I look around the church, I see something more; something unspoken. There is a hunger in their eyes. A thirst in their spirits. A longing to truly experience God. Not just to be aware of a knowledge of God, but to KNOW God. To know Him more powerfully in their own lives. As I stand before the congregation, I too pray that the Lord come and rain His presence on my spirit in a new way.

We yearn for something more. We want to know the awesome power of Jesus in our own hearts.  We want to see Him in a fresh and reviving way. We want to worship Him like we have never worshiped before. We long for it. We even ache for it. But we don’t know what “it” is for us. And how do we get there when we don’t know the way?

The answer?

Look up.

This is a message God has been teaching my heart over the past year since I returned home from the mission field with a sickness that no one could diagnose. I almost died, but although there were many conjectures, no one could pinpoint what I had or how to fix me. I began to get discouraged as I let myself lose focus of Christ and started becoming concerned with the struggles I was now facing.

But a dear friend of mine had been fasting and praying for me, and God gave her a specific message for me: Look up. Quit looking to the doctors for healing when they do not understand. Quit looking to the circumstances that did not seem to have the best prognosis. And quit looking at what I couldn’t do or why I couldn’t be in Africa with the orphans right now. Rather, look up to where my Help comes from. Seek the Lord and look to Him for my guidance. This message has since radically changed my perspective.

When I began to sit before the Lord and look to Him for everything, my attitude began to shift and I started dwelling on the good that He had given me. The more I worshiped Him for who He was rather than being confused as to why He had brought me back to America, the more my spirit began to be freed from the frustration and pain I had felt.

I asked my friend to take me to a place to worship freely – somewhere no one would know me, where I would not have to worry about anyone looking at me differently for the way I worshipped. I was so hungry for a fresh spirit from God, and so we visited a friend’s church an hour away. What began as a normal worship service ended with the pastor looking to me and telling me that if I would seek the Lord I would be healed from what I had. The next week, I called and went back down with my friend to visit this pastor. We went into the sanctuary to pray, and when  we started, I was standing up. But two and a half hours later when I said ‘Amen,’ I somehow had made it to the floor on my knees with my hands in the air. Everything that had been wrong with me had vanished, and when I looked up from where I had bowed low, I knew that the Lord had taken whatever I had away!

Since that time, I have continued to look up because I know where my help comes from. No matter what happens to me, I am so thirsty for God’s spirit to remain in me. To know God fully. To experience Him in a completely freeing way. To commune with the Holy and Living God and to sit before Him and worship Him for who He is!

My friends, the same can happen for you! Are you hungry for a move of God in your life? Are you going through something that seems to be tearing you down? Do circumstances seem to keep you from feeling a connection with the Lord? Are you one of the people sitting in the pews on Sunday morning without a song in your heart, choking out the words to worship choruses and nonchalantly writing down sermon notes without letting it affect you to the core?

LOOK UP.

When life’s circumstances get you down, when you feel as if water is rising quickly all around you and you start to feel panic as you drown in your job, your home life, your schoolwork, your financial struggles, your relationships – anything – look up.

Ask the Lord to place a new spirit of worship within your soul, to revive your heart and allow you to see Him for who He really is. Ask Him to heal your heart and to enter into your soul. Sit before Him and just wait for Him to speak to you in a gentle whisper out of His love for you.

When Peter walked on the water to Jesus in Matthew 14:22-33, He started out looking up at Jesus. All other problems faded away as He gazed into the face of the Master.  Waves, storms, clouds, people yelling at him – nothing could have deterred him from walking on the water to Jesus. And because of his unwavering trust in Jesus, Peter was walking on water!

But as Peter began to look around at his circumstances, he let his surroundings and the words of others affect him so much that he began to sink. He started looking at the size of those waves. He started hearing the unbelieving shouts of those in the boats, and he started to believe the lies. He saw the storm and felt it rock his confidence. But as he started sinking in his thoughts and in his spirit, a hand reached out to him. And so Peter looked up…and he saw the Savior waiting on him, calling his name.

Look up to Jesus, because today He is calling your name! He sees the hard thing you are going through that you think no one else understands. He calls you to worship through that by taking hold of His promises for you. He calls you to LOOK UP! He is reaching His hand out to you to pull you back on top of your water, to a place where you no longer look to the waves and the storm, but rather to His power and peace.

And before you know it, the storm will start to fade away next to the great power of your Lord. And those words to the worship songs next time you go to church that you might not have paid any attention to before, well, they will start to take root in your heart and you will be able to freely worship in a way you couldn’t have ever imagined!

So what are you waiting for?

Where does your help come from?

Just look up.

– Mary Beth Davidson

If you want to learn more about Mary Beth’s amazing story and her time on the mission field in Tanzania, you can read When She Said “Amen”: A Missionary’s Story of Faith and Healing on Thrive80 and Spotlight: City of Hope on Reject Apathy. 

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