Friday, July 26, 2013

Turn It Up!

Last week we celebrated VBS, also known as Vacation Bible School.  Every night we gathered at our church with over 200 children and gads of volunteers to jump and sing and dance and learn about how God is always with us, leading us, saving us, and then working through us to bring His Love and Light to the world.  Once again I got to teach faith skills to a group of children, Kindergarten through fifth grade.

One of the nights focused on the Israelites and the time they spent in the wilderness after God rescued them from slavery in Egypt.  During our faith skills time, we focused on how the Israelites grumbled and complained, and how important it is to let go of our complaints so that we can praise God instead.

I have been sitting with this lesson all week, ruminating on how true it is today, how its truth has been woven into the fabric of my life, how intricately it is linked to seeing God's power burst forth in our own lives.

I'm a practical girl.  I want to see what something looks like.  Theory is fine, but if it can't be translated into actual practice that I can wrap my life around, I'm not interested.  And when you are trying to teach the Big Truths of God to children, it had better be practical. 

During that night at while I taught faith skills, the Holy Spirit brought to mind a simple explanation of praise that is still bouncing around inside of me.  My children have taught me everything I really need to know about praise.

That sweet little one will hold me close at night.  Draped across my lap he holds me close and whispers, "You boo-ti-ful Mommy."

I try to stop and soak up the love, resting my heart in such simple grace.

My middle son jumps into life with both feet.  He is all in or not in at all.  But I love spending time with him because no matter how simple the activity, as long as we are together, he will always come away with an exuberant "That was awesome!"  I love hearing it!  I love sharing awesomeness with him, living the awesomeness together.

And my oldest child?  He is a thinker.  He is constantly reflecting on his experiences, learning from them, taking in the lessons, processing them with endless questions.  And sometimes out of his reflections, after the thing has passed, will come a simple, deeply felt, "Thank you for . . . ."

I treasure those moments.  Because they are rare in an active boy's life.  Because they come from a deep place.  Because they are pure gratitude.

I know life is hard.  I know in my bones how scary uncertainty can be.  I know what it is like to be surrounded by people, yet to feel agonizingly alone.  I know the pain of regret, disappointment, betrayal, rejection.  I know life isn't fair.  I know life is hard.

But what I have found is that no bad place is ever a match for God's Glory revealed in dark places.  Such Glory is always available to us.  God ushers His Glory into our lives as we praise Him.  In the praising we are promoted.

I don't know how else to say it.

As we praise Him, we are promoted to a better place.

As we focus our will and heart and mind on the simple act of . . .
--telling our Lord He is beautiful, seeking and seeing His beauty;
--enjoying His presence and work in our lives, responding exuberantly to His work, declaring His awesomeness;
--reflecting on How He has blessed us, offering a simple, yet deeply held, "Thank You;"
all that is life as we know it is immersed in His Greatness and His Goodness and things become different.

The seed of our transformation is planted, and nurtured, and watered in our praises.  We are changed.  And all around us begins to change.  Our hearts our opened to our Helper.  Our eyes are open to His Help.  Our ears are opened to His Voice speaking into our darkness and calling forth His Light.

And it's not about how we feel.  If we don't feel like it, do it anyway.  This is where the power is.  We push through what circumstances and feelings and the world is telling us to PRAISE HIM ANYWAY.  And when our praise is costly, because it is hard, when it is truly a sacrifice, because it doesn't come easy--God moves in a big time big way.  This is the thing the enemy does not want you to know.  This is the thing the enemy wants to avoid.  You praising God when the only way you can do it is by faith, since the feelings aren't there.

We see it in scripture all the time.  My favorite place is where Paul speaks of Abraham:

"No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised."  Romans 4:20-21

Abraham didn't start out strong.  But he grew strong as he gave glory to God.  His belief and trust in God grew strong as he honored, praised, and worshipped God.  It reminds me that when my faith is lagging, there is only one thing I need to do.

Turn it up!

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