A Life of Praise

Monday, January 31, 2005

Praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD from the heavens;
Praise Him in the heights!
Praise Him, all His angels;
Praise Him, all His hosts!
Praise Him, sun and moon;
Praise Him, all you stars of light!
Praise Him, you heavens of heavens,
And you waters above the heavens!
Let them praise the name of the LORD,
For He commanded and they were created.
He also established them forever and ever;
He made a decree which shall not pass away.
Praise the LORD from the earth,
You great sea creatures and all the depths;
Fire and hail, snow and clouds;
Stormy wind, fulfilling His word;
Mountains and all hills;
Fruitful trees and all cedars;
Beasts and all cattle;
Creeping things and flying fowl;
Kings of the earth and all peoples;
Princes and all judges of the earth;
Both young men and maidens;
Old men and children.
Let them praise the name of the LORD,
For His name alone is exalted;
His glory is above the earth and heaven.
And He has exalted the horn of His people,
The praise of all His saints--
Of the children of Israel,
A people near to Him.
Praise the LORD!

~Psalm 148~

How can I praise the Lord?

Right now, it feels like my life is spiraling WAY out of my own control, and I'm so afraid to trust the God of the universe, let alone praise Him!

I've been thinking a LOT lately about what it means that Christ came that I might have life, and have it more abundantly. It seems as though all I know to do is to accept His forgiveness when I sin, and keep doing the things that "good Christians" do, and of course I try to give Him the glory for everything that happens in my life.

My boyfriend had a profound observation the other day (he has those often--I love his walk with God!), when we were creating one of my favorite memories ever. We were walking in the falling snow. There was no wind, and it wasn't so cold that I couldn't be out in it without going into convulsions. It was so beautiful! As we ran (yes ran!) and played in the snow, we started noticing anew the beauty of God's creation. At one point, Pete looked at me and told me to breathe. My breath puffed out with a vapor that I could see, and he smiled. "See that? God made that."

He gave us breath. Why is it that so many Psalms cry out, "Let everything that has breath praise the Lord"? Because our life is from Him. Every day we live, every thought we have, everything we do, it's all possible because He sustains us, because He breathed into Adam the breath of life.

But the Psalm I've shared above talks about praising God. How can I praise Him? Do you see the list that is given of those who should praise Him? How do the sun and moon praise Him? How do the stars of light, sea creatures, or fire and hail and mountains praise Him?

"For He commanded, and they were created."

They praise Him by being created. They praise Him by their very existence. This... this I cannot comprehend. Because I go on and see the psalmist adding people to this list: "Kings of the earth and all peoples; Princes and all judges of the earth; Both young men and maidens; Old men and children."

I'm in that list. I'm a maiden. So often, I think that praising God hinges on what I say to Him to lift Him up. Or that glorifying Him must be done through a certain life purpose that I fulfill as mapped out by Him. I try to "do the right thing" because I want to please Him, for "praise from the upright is beautiful."

But do I really praise God, just by existing? Just by enjoying and falling apart with wonder at His beauty around me? Don't I have to offer something?

Hebrews puts it well in 13:14-15:

"For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come. Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name."

I can to give thanks, in the will of Jesus Christ, in all of my circumstances. For what? If nothing else, for the breath that He has given me, for His creating me, and making me His new creation. It's such a place to start!

"O Magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His Name together!"

I am just His creation. I have nothing to offer except my life, which is His gift to Me. I live by His command! I want to live each day as fully as I can, with Him, for Him, and through Him. It is by living that I praise Him!


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