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“Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.”
I love this idea of ascending to the Lord. There’s a reason it doesn’t just say Come for a visit or Please drop in. To draw closer to the Lord, we need to be lifted up. We need to climb. We need to reach. “Ascending” takes work and preparation as we become who we’re meant to be, but as we do make that ascent, we will receive the Lord’s blessings and His righteousness.
Anne C. Pingree taught this same principle: “In Minerva Teichert’s magnificent painting Christ in a Red Robe, the Savior of mankind, with nail prints in His hands, stands majestically with outstretched arms. In tenderness and compassion He looks down upon the women straining to reach Him. I love the symbolism of women reaching out to touch the Savior. We long to be close to the Lord, for we know that He loves each of us and desires to encircle us “eternally in the arms of his love.” His touch can heal ailments spiritual, emotional, or physical. He is our Advocate, Exemplar, Good Shepherd, and Redeemer. Where else would we look, where else would we reach, where else would we come but to Jesus Christ, “the author and finisher of our faith”? ”
One summer while we were on an internship in Los Angeles, my then three-year-old daughter, Alia, taught me about this process of ascension.
The kitchen in our small apartment had a tall, narrow pantry in which I kept the usual stuff: canned goods, cereal, crackers, and treats. Of course, where did I keep the treats? On the top very top shelf. That summer was a tough one for me as I tried to get enough rest while juggling the demands of three small children. Every afternoon Alia would invariably be the first one awake from her nap. To get in a few more minutes of sleep, I’d send Alia out to the kitchen for a snack with the instructions, “You can have anything you can reach.”
Now, I thought she was eating granola bars, crackers, or pretzels, but after a few days I noticed that our top-shelf supply of licorice and fruit snacks was seriously depleted. Totally curious as to how this was happening, I followed Alia to the pantry the next day to see for myself and wow, was I surprised. I hadn’t noticed it before, but our pantry had little wooden slats on each side which Alia used to scale up the walls until she got high enough to grab the snacks she really wanted. Smart, smart girl.
As I thought more about this (and moved the treats to a new location), I realized that our Father in Heaven has given us access to His “pantry” which is full of everything we need to nourish our spirits. Because He wants us to have all that He has, He, in essence, has told us, “You can have anything you can reach.”
We can choose the easy way and simply grab whatever requires the least effort, or we can creatively exert some energy, prepare ourselves with clean hands and pure hearts, and then ascend the hill of the Lord to reach the sweetest, most exciting rewards He has made available.
QUESTION: How has your life been strengthened by “reaching”?
CHALLENGE: Think about the things you want most in your life right now and identify one way you can reach a little higher to attain those things.