The Release of Praise
Lot lingered; he trifled. Thus many who are under convictions about their spiritual state, and the necessity of a change, defer that needful work…[i]
e sculpt the discomfort of the Holy Spirit’s conviction into self-styled plans for our own improvement. Instead of “Have thine own way,” we say, “Let me use this discontent to inspire myself to become what I know I ought to be.”
We must release long-held convictions that tell us we can’t be happy unless some needed change is made in our bodies or circumstances. By contrast, the Lord tells us only one thing is needed and that is to sit at His feet.[ii] Scripture says that when we put the Kingdom of God ahead of all, then everything else we require will be provided.[iii] Thus the spiritual change that is needed is, very simply stated, to make a shift from self-focus to God-focus.
We make such a hard job of it. We know we ought to praise God daily, but we avoid the release of emotion praise requires. We feel guilt over withholding from God the worship due His name, thus we close our minds to His voice. And so, like Lot, we linger and trifle, but God is merciful to us as He was to Lot. We do not need to be cold when God has provided warmth, hungry when He has provided food, or thirsty when He has given drink. Jesus has purchased our freedom with His body and His blood so that we may feed upon Him and be nourished, blessed, and protected; we may come to Him and be satisfied. The holy satisfaction of our hearts’ needs begins with praise.
Our circumstances usher us to places that confound our efforts to predict our own fate. It is something like the science fiction idea of traveling by time warp; the distance from where we are to where we need and want to be can't be mapped, and so we are unable to write our own prescriptions for improvement. Our vehicle to freedom cannot be of our own making, but is completely in God's hands. We must release our attempts to plan our own strategies for success. The release of praise catapults us into God's presence apart from the workings of our finite human minds. Thanksgiving trumps logic; human understanding vaporizes in the brightness of God's presence like a comet that draws close to the sun.
God knows us. We can't understand Him fully, but we are fully understood. We can't anticipate His responses, but He can anticipate ours. We haven't given our lives fully to Him, but He has withheld nothing from us. Our goal is not to work harder so we can become more perfect, but to abandon ourselves to His perfection. The abandonment of release to Him is the opposite of what we are naturally inclined to do; our way is to apply our own skills and reap our own rewards. Praise doesn’t say we are satisfied with our circumstances as they are, but that we are satisfied with God as He is. Lord, grant us the grace to praise and the ability to say, "Have thine own way."
Pray: Father, please forgive me for avoiding You because of my shortcomings, when only in You am I forgiven and made whole. Forgive me for my hesitancy to abandon myself to praise. I act as though praising You says that I’m happy with the trials I’m facing, when in truth, thanking You for my blessings facilitates the release of my burdens and opens my eyes to the ways You are at work on my behalf. Lord, I praise You. Thank You for Jesus, thank You for the Holy Spirit’s abiding presence and comfort, thank You for loving me; I praise Your Holy Name.
But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”