"May the God of hope fill you with great joy and peace as you trust in him." Romans 15:13

Monday, March 13, 2017

Can you Praise ME now?

One of my New Year's Aspirations was to memorize scripture.

It has been a most interesting journey.  I am truly in awe of it.  I thought it would be so cut and dry.  So simple.  So scholarly.

Instead it has been a life changing journey of my heart and a true bending of my will.

As I was choosing my most recent verse to memorize, I felt a stirring in my spirit directing me to choose a verse of praise.  And I thought, "Good idea God.  I am way too focused on me.  My troubles.  My worries.  My needs.  On all of the ways that I long for You to serve me.  It would be so great to focus on praise."

I expected it to be a joyful, yippee-skippee kind of assignment.

It has NOT been simple.

The passage I chose in Psalm 103:1-5.

Praise the Lord, O my soul;
all my inmost being, praise His holy name.
Praise the Lord, O my soul;
and forget not all His benefits - 
He forgives all my sins
and heals all my diseases,
He redeems my life from the pit
and crowns me with love and compassion, 
He satisfies my desires with good things
so that my youth is renewed like the eagle's.

I have heard this passage many times.  In my mind it has always been celebratory.  David is dancing and singing - wildly and joyfully praising God.

BUT this winter, I could not approach it that way.

This winter, I have struggled.  I have been anxious.  Sad.  Nervous.  Dissatisfied.  Tired.  Gloomy.  Questioning.  Weary.

In my season of heart, I could not meditate on this passage and dance a jig.

Rather, I memorized this passage and used it to boss my heart.  Instead of wild dancing and boundless praise, this passage was a lecture.

Praise the Lord, O my soul.  
Are you paying attention, soul?
All my inmost being, hear me, praise His holy name!
Praise the Lord, O my soul!  Just do it!
Seriously, do not forget all His benefits!
He forgave all my sins.
He heals all my diseases. 
He will redeem me from this pit of despair
and He will crown me with love and compassion
even though I do not deserve any of it.
even though I am wallowing and grumpy and lacking trust.
He will satisfy my desires with good things
maybe not the good things I think I need - but the good things I actually need
and my youth - my carefree spirit of joy and trust - will be renewed like the eagle's.

Now - I am NO Biblical scholar.  I am NOT saying that this is how the Greek translates or how David/the Lord really intended this passage to be read.  AT ALL.

But it is how I have worked through it these past 5 weeks.

For five weeks, I have been memorizing this passage.  Although my mind has known the words for some time, my heart and soul needed time to process them.  Time to accept them as true.  Time to work them out.

During these five weeks, the Lord has revealed much about where I find my security.

And sadly, all too often it is not in Him.

All too often I find my security in a financial plan, a clean house and organized life.  So basically, when I feel like my life is under MY control, I feel secure.


That is definitely not how He wants it.

Sure He wants me to take good care of all that He has given me - BUT my security should be in HIM and HIM alone.

All of that other stuff, it is just an illusive idol that I created.


And yet really looking that truth in the face is freeing.  Asking for forgiveness and really, truly seeking Him in all of it has set me (much more) free.

I do not have it figured out.  I do not know how to be a good steward while also seeking Him as I make purchases, pay bills, give and save.  I LIKE goals - but I need to constantly check my heart to make sure that my goals are His will.

I have been working on saying, "God the desire of my heart is to pay off my vehicle/help Jamison with some college expenses/grow the business/etc, etc, etc BUT more than I want the desire of MY heart, I want to follow You.  Make it clear, Lord.  The ONLY good goals I want to pursue are the one's that You have for me." 


"Lord, right now life is feeling out of control.  My natural reaction is to attack the laundry or reorganize my pantry - but will that glorify You?  What do you want of me?  Search my heart, Lord.  Teach me how to submit all of my time and emotion to You."

Because I am a life-long control-a-holic, I believe this will be something I have to be conscious of for the rest of my days.  Planning, organization, structure, routine are things I am good at.  They are gifts, when used in accordance with His will.  They are who He created me to be - as long as I use those gifts with a heart bent to His will.

Five weeks later, I am not quite dancing on a mountaintop - but I AM much closer.

As I have been submitting my will to HIS,

As I have been reminding my heart and soul to bend and praise Him who is WORTHY,

As I have chosen a much more humble posture,

my heart and soul feel lighter.  I think that is what happens in that last line (which I nearly chose not to memorize because it did not make any sense to me at first).  My youth - that freedom of heart I see in my TayTay as she buoyantly dances through the day - is being renewed and set free like the eagle.

His Word is life changing and living, there is no doubt about it.

And yes, Lord.  I can praise You now.  Thank You for teaching me.  Thank you for satisfying my desires with good things, Your things, so that my youth is renewed like the eagle's.  Search my heart, Lord.  Reveal my idols so that I can truly pursue You and praise You with all I am.