Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Because He Is

I hear a lot of chatter about praising God when things are going peachy for people. The Smith’s got a new house. Well, praise God! He’s so good! Mr. Howard got a promotion! Well, praise the Lord! Isn’t God awesome?!? *sigh* I don’t purposely try to be a downer, but something sure seems wrong with the common approach to how we attribute praise to God. We’re far too often swayed by ever-changing circumstances and personal agendas. Just a few weeks ago, I was intensely praying for a friend and just thanking God for Who He is. I vividly saw some things going on in the spiritual realm around them and in the midst of this, I heard God speak the following simple phrase that has given me hours of reflection.

Some people praise Me when and many praise Me if, but I’m looking for those who will praise Me because! (You may want to stop and read that again.) True praise and adoration of the Father is not circumstantial but rather is rooted in Who He is -and that alone is enough!

Allow me to briefly elaborate. Some people praise God if – if He does this or does that. Preconceived ideas of what God should do on our behalf makes us manipulators and is quite dangerous. An “I’ll praise you, love you, respond to you if you” attitude can easily overflow into every single area of our lives. It’s a self-based love that is always looking out for personal gain and it is not the agape love of the Father that we’ve been shown through Christ. He willingly showers us with His perfect love, though entirely undeserving we are.  Many people were raised under this kind of love and unknowingly pass it on to other generations. It will always lead to failure and disappointments within fractured relationships, rooted in a distorted and unhealthy view of God.

As I just mentioned, most Believers praise God when - when He does something on our behalf that we desire or when He seemingly brings about an outcome that we deem as advantageous. The new car. The new house. Your daughter made the honor role. Well praise the Lord! These are often hollow and can easily be corrupted views of thanking God if and only if He does what we feel is best.

Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. Col 3:17

I’m thankful that, over the last ten years primarily, I’ve been given the opportunity to test my approach of how I praise God in the midst of testing. A virtually unexplainable (and of course unexpected) stroke at age 36 was my first major trial. But in the midst of chaos in the natural, my spirit was in awe of my Father like I’ve still to this day never known. I wouldn’t trade those days of watching Him work supernaturally in me (and others) for anything in the world. My circumstances, although entirely “why me, God?”-worthy only propelled me to praise Him more! I experienced and learned so many life-changing things during that time. I was miraculously healed - entirely unexplainable to doctors. I didn’t wait to praise Him when I was healed. He is God and I praised Him because.

Fast forward several years to the birth of our son. My wife was extremely sick during the time of delivery. She needed a lot of emergency medical care during and after the birth. My son was simultaneously born with breathing issues and potential complications. Absolutely everything was the exact opposite of what we had planned and wanted it to be. Was I scared to death? You’d better believe I was! But, where else do I turn but to my Father!? I rested in the fact that all of our lives are His and He alone was deserving of my praise. He had formed and fashioned my son in my beautiful wife’s womb so I rested in the fact that the ultimate outcome was for Him to hold. I remember clearly that even in the midst of it all, I never once questioned why He was allowing all of this to happen. Even in the mess of things in the natural, I chose to see the eternal. Even when the entire situation was chaos, I didn’t stand tell God I’d praise Him if He healed my wife and son. He is God and I praised Him because.

Pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thess 5

Recently, I received word that a friend was being taken to the ER. I knew few details and even though I was out working, I began to thank God for the opportunity for her to be carried and held by Him. I asked Him to teach her in the midst of it all and to take her to a higher place of reliance upon Him – an experiential encounter. Of course I asked God to heal her and keep her safe but there are so many more deep levels to these things that must not go overlooked for the maturing Believer. (This approach is much more than just blindly asking for “God’s will to be done”.) I didn’t cry out to God pridefully demanding He heal my friend and then I’d praise Him for it when I heard good news. He is God and I praised Him because.

I will bless the Lord at all times: His praise shall continually be in my mouth. Psalm 34

Perspective. Perspective. Perspective. It’s all about perspective. Allow me to give one more example. Our son Noah has a pretty intense dairy and egg allergy. If he even inhales some parmesan cheese dust, he’ll begin to sneeze. Kiss him after you’ve eaten a dairy product and his face will break out. If he actually eats dairy or egg… well, it’s bad and I don’t even like to talk about it. He can’t use shared crayons in restaurants and he can’t play on play place equipment at restaurants because even the residue from others gets to him. While I’ll be quick to state that this is extremely challenging and at times makes us want to scream, we do our best to see it all in light of the bigger picture. We’re so thankful our son isn’t terminally ill. We’re grateful he does not have a peanut allergy as well. We often thank the Lord for how Noah’s current allergies allowed my wife to completely overhaul our eating as a family, resulting in her own health dramatically improving! You see, we want to perceive things as Jesus did - seeing as the Father sees. From His perspective we see things so much differently than from our own limited view. We rejoice in what is, often buried deep within the what is not’s. I believe this is a view that pleases my Father and we want to cultivate lives that establish this as a normal way of life. He is God and He formed my son in his mother’s womb. My wife and I will not wait to praise God for His awesome works to give us a son. He alone holds all in His glorious hands and I will praise Him because.

Now let me be clear to state that I’m not at all trying to paint me as some super-Christian or have you to believe that I don’t ever wrestle with the why’s or why not’s of life.  But first and foremost, I desire to turn to my Father in praise and adoration. Worshipping Him in spirit and in truth, unmoved as much as possible, by my personal expectations or agendas. I’ve been shown entirely unconditional love and I’m moved to do likewise, whether all goes how I plan it or not. He is worthy – period.

Hebrews 13:15 states, “Through [Jesus Christ] then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.” Surely we can’t wait until we “feel like” praising God or when everything is doing what we deem as perfect. If this were the case, we’d surely never do it! For those in Christ, their spirits desire to praise God because of His nature in us.

So, have you ever attempted to manipulate God with an if and when You… I will…? I know I sure have! Remember, God is looking for a people who will praise Him because of Who He is. This has got to be enough! If it isn’t, we’ve not truly known the Father for He is so much higher than what we can ever fully grasp. May we who are called according to the name of Christ lay down our if’s and when’s and pour out our adoration to our Father, because He is.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

Reminds me of a good song lyric because most people really only truly praise Him when things are going fine and dandy but like so many people say - it's easy to praise the Lord when all is well but it's when times are tough that the true character of a person is seen in how much they trust God

You never know what temporal days may bring
Laugh, love, live free and sing
When life is in discord
Praise ye the lord - Anberlin