Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A Way of Life

The annual local Women’s Retreat had begun, the speaker’s first assignment of the day was to challenge the women to a new approach in their prayer lives praying to the Lord using nothing but praises. The reaction from the women around me, as well as myself, was one of doubt and skepticism as we tried to figure out how this task could be accomplished.

Immediately the floodgate of questions was opened as inquiries were being asked such as “How can I pray for my son’s broken leg or for travel mercies for my husband’s upcoming trip using nothing but praises?”

The speaker told the class the way to do it was to praise the Lord your son is okay, that his leg will heal under God’s care; praising Him that your husband has a job to go to daily that he will have a good trip thanks to the Lord’s watchful eye and loving hand that will travel with him and keep him safe. Encouragingly the speaker informed us that once we did this it would soon become a way of life and sure enough it wasn’t as hard as it seemed as it created a change in all of us.

Later in life I would receive still another lesson regarding praise, it happened when an elder of my church told me what I needed was to praise the Lord. Looking at him in a startled gaze I couldn’t help but wonder if he had heard what I was telling him about what was going on currently around me. How in the world was I going to find something to praise the Lord for when my life seemed to be in such a chaotic state?

Flashing back to the Women’s Retreat assignment years ago I knew God was once again trying to teach me something I needed to learn and incorporate in my life. Wasting no time I began searching for things each day throughout the week to praise the Lord for, whether it was simply for the air I was allowed to breath or the toes on my feet that kept me balanced in my daily walk.

Much to my surprise, but not to the elder’s, the days in my week were going better and my time in church come Sunday was no longer needed for a place for my misfortune festivity but a place to truly dedicate my energy to worshipping and praising the Lord as I should have been doing all along. My focus was refocused on the things that really mattered, as I trusted God to take care of the remaining portions of my life.

Sadly enough frequently we do miss use our time of praise and worship by concentrating on the cares of the world that we bring with us into the sanctuary. Unintentionally we cheat the Lord out of the praise and worship He deserves as our concentration goes on whether the worship team is playing our kind of music, the deacons are serving the communion as we like it served, or if the preacher is getting to personal with his message directing it at us doing everything but actually mentioning our real name.

For years I was guilty of such an act of using my praise and worship time for something other than what it should be, coming to church in tears setting up my own pity party in the third pew from the front on the right hand side of the sanctuary. Praise the Lord God understands that, He knew my need to be there to refuel for the upcoming week out in the world. What He didn’t want was me continuing in that state of mind and keeping the focus on me.

Finally through several life teachings I found that by praising the Lord daily, in my prayers, and in my worship time I was telling Satan to buzz off, that the Lord had my attention, love, focus, and trust. Someone perfectly capable of seeing me through whatever storms Satan tried to stir up to drown me in own emotions of pity and “why me’s.” What a blessing it was to stand up to Satan with this newfound strength I was feeling from within from praising my Lord and Savior.

As I kept my time in praise and worship exactly that, giving glory to the one who is worthy of adoration greater than my dull heart could yield the bond between God and I grew stronger each passing day. Expressing to Him my admiration and high regard for all He does such as being my arm that supports me as well as my feet that enables me to run. Exalting Him for supplying the light in which I see by, the protection that shields me and the strength that allows me to stand. Glorifying in praise and worship the loving caring God who gave His Son’s blood to be used to pay a debt to large for me to handle.

Years of education paying off as I incorporated into my way of life the joy of praising and worshipping a God who was willing to exchange my uncleanness for His purity, my guile for His sincerity, and my emptiness for His fullness. As well as swapping my shame for His glory, my lawlessness for His obedience, my dead work for His righteousness, my life for His death. It didn’t seem fair to God but it was what the Lord wanted and so did I.

The more I did it the more evident it became that Christ couldn’t be the way if “I” was the end, that He couldn’t be redeemer if “I” was acting as my own savior. It was a lesson well learnt that true faith accepts Him as redeemer and Lord or not at all as I allowed Jesus to breathe in my prayers, inhabit my praises, speak in my words, and move in my actions. Leading to a new way of life opened up to me to grow daily in His grace, all beginning with the act of praise, trust, and faith in He who is most worthy, the foundation of my faith, the substance of my joy and honor. Praise the Lord!

Dear Heavenly Father thank you for the lessons You have taught us in order for us to grow in our knowledge toward the life we need to be living in You. Forgive us Father God for the times in our lives that our hearts seem to be hardened and drawn away from the act of praise and worship that should be taking place daily. Help us Lord to actively tell Satan to “buzz off” that our hearts belong to Jesus as our actions reflect that in our praise and behavior. Amen.

© 2007 by Karen J. Gillett

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