Here’s the thing about praise


Never will a rock cry out in my place. He’s worthy of all my praise!

I sang those words as I swayed back and forth on risers with the gospel choir OneVoice once or twice during my time at Cedarville. It was a fun song, and I wish we had sung it more.

Luke 19:37-40 says, “As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’ And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples.’ He answered, ‘I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.'”

Here’s the devastating thing about my praise, lately: I think the rocks have been crying out in my place. I have been silent, and the very stones must be crying out, “Blessed is the King! Glory! Glory! Glory!” because I sure haven’t been crying it out.

A couple of weeks ago in Jarabacoa I was talking to my friend Rachel about how fast time flies. Geeze Louise it’s already December! In just a couple of weeks we will be ringing in 2014. Then the time will fly and before I know it summer will come around again. And then another school year, another Christmas, another summer, on and on. Until I die or Jesus comes back.

And as much as I love love love life and living and eating ice cream and smelling the ocean and going new places and reading new books, I was starting to feel a little down about things these past couple of weeks thinking about life and how fast it passes us by. What am I really doing with my life? What should I be doing with this life?

Well, I believe I am here on this earth to Love God and Love People. I am here to make disciples, to be sent, to tell people about the Jesus who lived and died and lived again. I am here to give God the glory He deserves.

I guess this all started when my friend Phillip was hit by a car the week of Thanksgiving. Or, I suppose, it all started when I came home from school Tuesday afternoon and my motoconcho friend called me over. I had been thinking about what I was going to have for lunch for the previous hour and a half, so I was pretty focused and hoping to say a quick hello and then get inside to make that lunch. But Rafael called me over and said, “You know my friend Phillip that sits over there with me?” He pointed across the street to where he and Phillip usually sat with their motorcycles waiting to give people rides. “He was hit by a car last night. He died.”

I had hoped beyond all hope that I had misunderstood. That maybe “se murió” didn’t mean what I had always thought it to mean, even though Rafael drew his finger across his neck to get the point across. I managed to get out, “Gracias por decirme,” (Thanks for telling me) and then turned around before Rafael could see my tears. I ran through the words he said over and over, hoping I had misunderstood his Spanish like I had so many times before. Hoping that maybe he wasn’t talking about the Phillip I knew, even though Rafael and Phillip were the only ones to sit together under that tree.

You see, I have never really had to deal with death. I can only ever remember going to one funeral, and I don’t think I even knew the woman. I have been protected from the tragic blow of death.

Then I heard the words. “Se murió.” He died. And I had to figure out what to do with that information. How to wrap my mind around the fact that I had just seen Phillip the day before, had just joked with him about how Melissa better find a husband because it’s just not okay for a woman to live by herself. But now I will never see him again.

I tell you what I forgot all about that lunch I had been so focused on.

And recently I realized I have been in a funk since I heard those two words – “se murió.” That Philip’s death shocked me into non-action. That maybe I have been mourning. Lamenting. Grieving. For the life of a man I honestly barely knew.

But when life is moving by so quickly and when you are reminded so starkly that it could all end in a minute, you start to take stock.

What am I really doing with my life? What should I be doing with this life?

Today I feel a pulling on my heart. To praise. To give God more glory. To find simple ways every day to do the things I was created to do. To point to the cross and duck. To wash my roommate’s dishes. To swallow my impatience and answer a student’s silly question. To muster up the courage to talk about the Jesus I know.

But some of those things are really hard, and sometimes I feel as if Jesus and I are starting from the beginning. “Hi Jesus, I’m Suzanne. But of course you knew that already. I’m a big huge mess and I really need some help. Like, desperately. But of course you knew that already, too. I believe, even more than I believe I’m a big huge mess, that your whole reason for being is to help people who are big huge messes do and become beautiful things. Will you help me, Jesus? And will you forgive me for all the times I’ve messed up? And will you help me to do and become beautiful?”

The Bible says that His mercies are new every morning and glory! That is some of the best news I have ever heard. I started over this morning by praying the words to a song I wrote on my mirror with a Sharpie a couple of months ago. “I’m saying yes to you and no to my desire. I’ll leave myself behind and follow You.”

What am I really doing with my life? What should I be doing with this life? Well, today I am going to start over, start from the beginning, and I’m going to start with a Praise. A big ol’ look at what God has done. He has saved me. He has saved me from sin and death. He has picked me up. He has bought me back. He has redeemed me. He is restoring me. He rescued me. He adopted me. He wants me for His own.

He puts rainbows in the sky and beautiful people on this planet with their beautiful languages and their desire to travel. He puts water in the waterfalls and clouds and stars in the sky. He is good.

Looking at all of the dusty and broken things in my life (and in the world) that still need to be redeemed and made beautiful can be overwhelming. Sometimes I want to quit. And spend two weeks in my bed watching Will & Grace on DVD. But I don’t want to quit. I don’t want to waste this life I have been given. So I’m baby stepping back to the cross. And I’m starting with praise.

Never will a rock cry out in my place. He’s worthy of all my praise.

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