I was raised on the South Side of Chicago. My brother and I would often go downtown on weekends or evenings to enjoy the city. It’s a great city to spend a weekend in and we took advantage of it often.
The skyline of Chicago is fantastic and can be seen from 40 miles out. If you’re driving in from Central Illinois you can see the skyline from Matteson which is 35 miles from Downtown. The skyline can be seen from Michigan City, Indiana which is roughly 30 miles across Lake Michigan.
What has always been interesting to me is how once you get downtown the buildings that were so easily seen and dominant at 25 miles away are now very difficult to see when you’re on Michigan Ave. When I’m in Blue Island I can see the Sears Tower but I can’t see it on Jackson Street.
The problem is that, on Jackson street, there’s a McDonald’s, and Jimmy John’s and Giordano’s Pizza, and a Subway and Dunkin Donuts. Amazingly the Subway and McDonald’s prevent you from seeing the Sears Tower. They’re so much closer to you when you’re closer to it that they prevent you from seeing something that is infinitely bigger than Subway will ever be. There’s also El Trains and bus stops and other smaller buildings that block the view of the Sears Tower once you’re downtown.
In order to see the Sears Tower when you’re on Jackson or Adams Street you can’t look ahead of you, you have to look up.
Once you raise your eyes from what is directly in front of you and look up you see what was always there but simply hidden by the immediate. What seemed so apparent, secure and imposing 30 miles out can become obscured by smaller, less important things that happen to be nearer your field of vision.
A certain myopia often overtakes us in life when we face difficulties and discouragements. Often the immediate obscures the imminent. We’re prevented from seeing what is substantially larger and of more value by those things that are small but immediately present. When these moments confront us we must never forget to look higher.
In 2 Kings chapter 6 the King of Syria planned an attack on the city of Dothan. The prophet Elisha and his servant were in that city. When Elisha’s servant saw the army of Syria surrounding the city he began to panic and stress. Elisha however, calmly declared to him that “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them” (2Kings 6:16). Elisha then prayed that his servants eyes would be opened and when they were he looked and, in the hills, he saw the mountains full of horses, chariots of fire and the host of the Lord. His attitude changed when he looked a little bit higher!
I identify with the Psalmist when he prays, “when my heart is faint lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (Psa. 61:2, ESV).
Sometimes you just need to look higher and you’ll see that God is still on His throne and He is still watching out for you.