Read His Words Before Ours!
The fall colors were stunning, adorning the towering trees in red and gold finery. The autumn sunshine warmed my skin as I laced up my shoes and prepared to run the leaf-covered path stretching before me.
I had been praying over this run, asking the Lord to reveal Himself. I wanted to meet with Him. I wanted to know Him. I wanted to be held and comforted and loved. Today was supposed to be my son’s 6th birthday; instead little Elijah James has spent every September 30th running the fields of Heaven with Jesus. When I was pregnant with him, running kept my nausea at bay, so I ran often. As I ran, I prayed for him, for his life, for his future, and I thanked God for giving me the gift of being his mama.
Then, one day, his heart stopped beating and Jesus called my little boy home before I ever saw his face on this side of my womb. The last day of September will always find me running outside, enjoying the gift of fall sunlight and remembering an incredible truth, my little boy knows more about Jesus than I do, for he sees Him face-to-face.
Elijah worships the King in His very presence, while I ache earthside for eternity.
EJ’s everyday praise looks magnificently more brilliant than my own, but even so,
I’m invited into the same sacred space as I offer up my praise because we worship the same Lord and Savior.
As my feet rustled the fallen leaves that afternoon, I knew my heart was ready to hear from the Lord. I had slowed down, preparing to listen and know Him. The Lord asked questions, and my heart wrestled with them, seeing areas of sin and patterns of rebellion and distrust. Weeds were cut back as my Father sang over me and once again, I was made new from the inside out. My heart responded to His melodies of love by praising Him, speaking with Him, and delighting in Him.
Spiritual retreats, special church services, and times set aside specifically for prayer are rich and powerful in our lives and marked with deep heart worship. While these milestones are significant, such experiences are not intended to be sequestered to “holy retreat days.” Yes, the Lord met me on that beautiful fall day and I was drawn into deep worship, but this access to the Holy One is available every day, in all of my ordinary moments.
Cultivating a heart of everyday praise begins with realizing the fullness of His Holy Presence is as close and available as our skin and bones for those who have made Jesus their Savior.
Paul was an apostle full of passionate zeal, and his love for God overflowed into everyday praise simply because he practiced rehearsing the truths of God’s character on repeat. In his letter to the church in Rome, he writes of God’s radical grace in making eternal salvation available to all people. His pen practically shouts praises inspired by God’s love, which bestows spiritual gifts and calling and divine purpose upon all who call on His name. (Romans 11:29) Paul’s emotion catches up to him as he proclaims to his audience, “You were disobedient, but God took your wretchedness and showed you unfathomable riches!” (Romans 11:30-32, my paraphrase)
The more Paul speaks of the glories He knows to be true about God, the more his intensity grows until finally he can’t help but sing,
“Oh, the depth of the riches
and the wisdom and the knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments
and untraceable his ways!
For who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?
And who has ever given to God,
that he should be repaid?
For from him and through him
and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever. Amen.”
This morning, I was hurt by a loved one’s words. I was frustrated by my children. I was angered by the mess. I felt unseen and unknown. I hadn’t spent hours praying over my day, asking the Lord to meet me and prepare my heart to know Him. I wasn’t reflective and open to the Spirit’s work; I was a mess.
But my reality didn’t equate to God becoming distant.
His nearness isn’t dictated by my feelings or circumstance, only by His choice.
And His choice is faithful love for those who have been clothed in His own righteousness through Jesus, every single time.
My heart status this morning was nothing like the afternoon of September 30th, but the Lord was unchanging. As I sat in the Target parking lot and cried (….and shouted), the Spirit reminded me of Who He Is. As I breathed in His grace, His Spirit flooded me with peace I absolutely cannot describe. My clenched jaw instantly relaxed, my breathing slowed, my head rested back against the seat. As anger seeped away, peace invaded, and I was once again graciously reminded that I live out my everyday messiness in the very presence of the God of holiness who has declared me righteous.
His love for me will never abandon and will always pursue my heart that I might know Him more, inviting me into everyday praise.
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!