The Art of Praise
Dubious Thanks – November 28th, 2018
Only about six hours ago, I was seated in my car and covering the last few miles to arrive back at my home after an emergency trip came up yesterday afternoon to Augusta, Georgia. There wasn’t any question in my mind at the time, that it was my task, and it was time an immediate need to accomplish it.
What laid before me yesterday afternoon and this morning, was punishing to my body. This morning I find myself attempting to recover from a drive that in my younger years would have been nothing to deal with, but now are a bit more of a challenge. We don’t get to pick and choose necessary what options we are faced with. At times, we just need to swallow hard and place our faith in God’s mighty hands.
At times this faith can seem a bit dubious or even evasive, but its these times that our trust is put into action to demonstrate our faith.
Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Don’t stifle the Spirit. Don’t despise prophecies, but test all things. Hold on to what is good. Stay away from every kind of evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22 (CSB)
I’ve been attempting to train myself not to question the commands contained in this passage for what’s been over a year now. The Lord put this on my heart beginning with the verses 16-18, which end in “this is the will for you in Christ Jesus”.
It’s not always an easy thing to do, nor is it our natural reaction to events and circumstances that present themselves that are less than convenient, less than comfortable, less than conducive to our routine and anticipated schedule.
In fact, my first reaction in most cases is ‘really Lord, are you sure about this?’ Of course, he is certain of it, or he wouldn’t have brought us to it. So, it is nothing but my flesh that is presenting its resistance to the course laying before me.
Give thanks to the Lord; call on his name; proclaim his deeds among the peoples. 1 Chronicles 16:8 (CSB)
My simple role in yesterday’s emergency, wasn’t heroic, it wasn’t monumental, it was just being where God wanted me to be, doing that which God desired me to be doing. “Rejoice always, pray constantly give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”.
It was and is what God had chosen and therefore was good. It was good despite the pain in my extremities, and the weariness of my body. It was good even when the tractor trailer moved from the far-right lane to make a pass from the center lane ahead of us, only to continue directly into the space which occupied the front of my car.
Thanks, was rendered from my heart and my lips to the Lord for his divine protection as the small car I was driving braked heavily and quickly increased the distance between my vehicle and that mammoth truck.
Apparently, the driver was extremely fatigued because they made a correction to their sway path and muscled the big vehicle to a stable course in the center of the three lanes of west bound travel.
“Pray about all things.” I remembered then that I had forgotten to pray about the trip before leaving, as I was rendering a prayer for the driver of that semi to keep him alert and safe from harm of themselves or anyone in their path.
The rapid deceleration of the Chevy Sonic had taken place and was completed before I had a chance to even consider the situation, ‘praise and thanks’ were in order and immediate, because that wasn’t my keen senses that picked up on the situation and averted a potential disaster it was the hand of God on his child.
Needless to say, it wasn’t me. Nor was it me that provided the resolution in the late evening hours when I secured the objective of my late day mission to Augusta. God had been instrumental in avoiding the accident that was taking place in front of me because as surely as that truck was destined for the hood of my car, the wreck was all but unavoidable at that point, yet it was avoided.
So he answered me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by strength or by might, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord of Armies. Zechariah 4:6 (CSB)
So often we consider these situations from our own perspective and that is simply flawed. We have zero ability to understand the ‘why’s and ‘wherefores’ of each and every obstacle or challenge in our path. God does!
We go through little tests of our faith nearly constantly as we face these unforeseen emergencies and calamities that seek to impede us in our journey.
But then, just as with me approaching my house this morning in the early morning hours, it obviously isn’t my strength, sight, or ability. It is the result of the Spirit of God actively working and making the way for us through these challenges.
For we walk by faith, not by sight. In fact, we are confident, and we would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. Therefore, whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to be pleasing to him. 2 Corinthians 5:7-9 (CSB)
I really didn’t want to make that drive to Augusta yesterday, nor the return trip back to Alabaster. It wasn’t my plan to encounter eighteen wheels encroaching into my right-of-way.
God could have had it in his plan that the truck continued into my lane, and my foot which pressed instantaneously and firmly on the break peddle without my conscious thought directing it, could have been dulled from the miles and the hour of the morning, failing to intervene in time to avoid a wreck. A wreck that could have well resulted in me I and my passenger standing before the Lord of Hosts.
I am certain I would have been much happier about that, then the pain I experience rising out of bed this morning as a result of the trip.
But regardless, we were delivered, and as Paul says, “whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to be pleasing to him”, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
We may find ourselves from time to time questioning just why God’s put us where we are doing what we are doing, but so long as we focus on the trust we owe him, there is consistently cause to “Rejoice always, pray constantly give thanks in everything”, because we are walking by faith and not by sight and this is “God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”.