All of this is our ascent – setting our eyes on Him and causing us to draw closer to him.

In my distress I called to the LORD,
    and he answered me.
Deliver me, O LORD,
    from lying lips,
    from a deceitful tongue.
What shall be given to you,
    and what more shall be done to you,
    you deceitful tongue?
A warrior’s sharp arrows,
    with glowing coals of the broom tree!
Woe to me, that I sojourn in Meshech,
    that I dwell among the tents of Kedar!
Too long have I had my dwelling
    among those who hate peace.
I am for peace,
    but when I speak, they are for war!

Earlier this week, we said Jerusalem was considered “up” regardless of one’s geographical starting point. Even if the overall journey meant a literal decent in elevation, the entire journey towards Jerusalem was considered to be an ascent. In ancient time, places of worship were also called “high” and “holy” places, and they were strategically set up on hills. Thus, the process of going to the Temple or place of worship involved an “ascent”– similar to how Cathedrals were designed to raise one’s eyes toward heaven.

We may not take many pilgrimages today or even enter Cathedrals to raise our eyes in ascent, yet we use similar language. In Revelation 8:3-4 we see the prayers of the saints ascending in the smoke from the heavenly golden censer. Over and over, our prayers and worship ascend as we “lift up” songs and prayers and praises. All of this is our ascent – setting our eyes on Him and causing us to draw closer to him. When we turn from the world and seek to enter God’s presence for prayer and worship, we’re – in a way – ascending toward Him.

Leaving behind worldliness and everything that distracts us from God increases our hope as we approach the Lord. This is why it’s so important to identify those things which hinder our pilgrimage. To hold onto these things is to weigh ourselves down, which sets our focus on the thing itself rather than the praise we could be lifting up to God. It’s like having a weight tied to our ankle as we’ve been tossed into a sea; as the surface and light disappear as the weight drags us deeper. The process of cutting loose from these weights frees us to ascend towards God. As you walk into your place of worship this coming Sunday, remember the blessing it is to be freed from worldliness and given the hope of Christ. As a celebration of this freedom to ascend, listen to Boldly I Approach Your Throne by Rend Collective.

By Cole Comstock

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