“Look up,” I kept telling myself. “The good stuff is UP THERE.”
I saw redwood trees for the first time this summer. We were at Muir Woods National Monument in California and I was giddy with joy to have the opportunity to walk among the gentle giants. I entered the forest and my head tilted way back to take in their massive height. My jaw dropped. The only thought that popped into my mind was a profound sense of “wow.”
I took a few steps and then looked back up, taking it all in. I tried to take pictures that documented the grandeur of the trees but, as usual, I knew my pictures weren’t doing the scene justice. I took a few more steps, marveled at the trees again, and then it was time to start hiking into the forest.
As soon as I started hiking, I slipped into my normal pattern of watching the ground as I walked. I wanted to stay on the trail, to avoid roots or rocks, to keep from falling. Watching the ground kept me safe. But it also kept my eyes off the trees, and the whole purpose for my hike was to enjoy the trees! I had to stop often and remind myself to look up.
As I walked, I thought about this juxtaposition between wanting to look up and needing to look down. I felt God whisper into my soul, something I’m better at recognizing when I’m wandering in nature. He was reminding me that I need to do both – look up and look down – every day. Not just when I’m in hiking among the redwoods.
This applies to all of us, of course. We all need to look up and look down every day. Looking down means focusing on the tasks at hand, the responsibility we all have to complete the work God has given us to do. The Bible is clear that we’ve each been given tasks and that we are to take them seriously. Looking down is just that – taking our work seriously. Minding the details. Staying on the trail, avoiding the roots and rocks.
Looking up is pretty important too though. Without looking up, we miss the beauty. In the Redwood forest, not looking up means missing God’s handiwork in those incredible trees. But on an average day here in Charlotte, not looking up means focusing only on ourselves and not taking any moments to notice God at work around us. He’s not just present among the redwoods. He’s present everywhere. He’s at work everywhere. And we miss enjoying God’s presence if all we do is look down and focus on our tasks at hand.
Whatever stage of the college planning process you’re in, make sure you’re both looking up and looking down. We know there are tasks to do - campus visits, standardized tests, applications. We stand at the ready to guide you through all of those tasks and help you with every aspect of them. We’ll offer the explanations you need at our college planning parent nights and are glad to answer questions specific to your child along the way. We invite you to tap into the resource of having college counselors assigned to your family.
But the most important thing we can do to serve you, more important than helping you understand how college admissions works, is to remind you to look up. That time when everything coincidentally worked out just right? That was probably God. The feeling of peace you felt after a worried prayer about whether college plans would come together? That was definitely God.
You are surrounded every day by a figurative redwood grove, a constant display of God’s goodness and strength and gentleness and love. Don’t forget to look up. You will find our God to be magnificent and trustworthy, even more than the redwoods trees he created.
“Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy.” Psalm 34:5a
Director of College Counseling