Friday, February 23, 2007

Make a Joyful Noise to the Lord All the Earth

How gorgeous was today?! It was like a spring day and oh how I love spring days. My birthday is in the spring, I can hear the tinging of baseball bats as the baseball season starts up, March madness, fly-fishing is starting to peak, it's great weather for hiking and/or camping. Those are just some of the few reasons why I love the spring. But as I went through my day today (which consisted of planning for this Monday's Inside Out, going by the Daily Grind to scope out the corner where we will have live music on Monday, talking Ghana with a new friend - Ryan, and packing for my trip to Thomasville this weekend), I was challenged. I listened as the trees whistled as the wind blew, I listened to the birds chirping and singing in my backyard and the dogs barking throughout my neighborhood. The thing that came to mind was, everything is praising God; creation is praising its Creator. Scripture is riddled with examples of creation worshipping God for who He is (Psalm 104, Isaiah 55, Romans 1:20). God made everything to worship Him - the trees, animals, even the rocks! Yes the rocks sing out in praise (Luke 19:40)! Can you imagine that?! I can't...I don’t think rocks would ever sing for me or you, for that matter. But they’ll sing for God, cause He made them. I found something written by Matt Maher, a Catholic worship leader who wrote Your Grace is Enough, that says it better than I could:

So I'm sitting at the piano one February morning, staring out the window, and I notice the trees. Bare and naked before God. The leaves have fallen. It’s just these empty branches, aimed at the ground. It resonates within me a desire to do the same before God. To be bare and stripped of all I am before Him...And I look at this tree, and I think of the tree of life. The cross. Back to the tree outside my window. I’m looking at this tree, and seeing the golden leaves on the ground. An offering of gold. It’s their tithe. It’s all it has to offer, so it does. Now I live in Arizona, and we generally don’t have winter. But we have a brief Autumn. Now in my head I’m imagining the autumn I grew up in (I grew up in Canada with 4 seasons). It’s getting colder. The sun is setting and the sky is on fire. Then I imagine winter, in its stillness and bleakness. The days are shorter. It gets really cold and gray. The cold dark places within the human heart. My moments of personal despair. My dark night. My moment of needing rescue; I look back on those moments and see God’s hand there, in the midst of it. Pulling me out of it.

Pulling me to Him. And the snow melts, and the flowers are stretching to heaven; their whole bodies trying to get in on the party that’s happening in heaven; and the birds are singing for no apparent reason, other than that’s what they do. Somewhere in space, there’s a star exploding to the glory of God. Everything is coming back to life, and I am seeing that everything must die to rise again. That God ordained it that way from before time. God the Father willed that everything would point to His Son’s passion, death and resurrection. And on that third day, we are glorified in Christ Jesus. (2 Cor 5:17), and united as one body. His bride and church, made Holy by Him.

So I was challenged. Back to the passage in Luke 19 about the rocks crying out. As Jesus was walking down the road, the crowd of His disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices and the Pharisees asked Jesus to rebuke His disciples. Jesus' response was, "I tell you, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out." If we don't praise God, the rocks will pick up our slack. Oh how I wish my life would be so full of praise for my Creator and King that when I was around, the rocks were silent! His praise should always be on our lips!! In our own personal springs, and even more so in our own personal winters, we need to praise God...loudly! I love the heart attitude of the prophet Habakkuk, who decided he would choose to respond to God’s worth, no matter how bleak a season he found himself in: Though the fig-tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior (Habakkuk 3:17,18).

In Acts 16, Paul and Silas also resolve to overcome less than favorable conditions and worship God. Sitting in their jail cell, they could be forgiven for not being in the mood for singing. They had been unjustly arrested, beaten, severely flogged and thrown into the deepest part of the prison, with their feet in stocks. Yet, somehow, Paul and Silas found it in themselves to sing out praise to God. Refusing to let their souls be dampened, they worshipped with everything they had left. Most of us don’t own fig trees and haven’t been imprisoned for being Christians, but the principle is the same for us as it was for Habakkuk, Paul and Silas: We can always find a reason to praise. Situations change for better and for worse, but God’s worth never changes. We may be hard-pressed on every side, weary and not able to sense God. But then a choice faces us—to fix our eyes on the circumstances or to cling to God and choose to worship Him, even when it hurts. The heart of God loves the offerings of a persevering worshipper. Though overwhelmed by many troubles, they are even more overwhelmed by the beauty of God.

So my brothers and sisters, don't let the rocks out-sing you!!

Grace and peace.


Alyn said...

This is great info to know.

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