“God lives in the place of praise. If we want to be where He is, we need to go to His address.”
― Nancy Leigh DeMoss
“I had such a hard time giving all the glory to God when first accepting Him as Lord. Coming out of a theatre background where there were many applauds and accolades, I suffered from what I call “attention-itis” – the need for recognition. It took many years and much eating of crow before I became conscious of giving all praise to God for my accomplishments.”
― Sheryl Young, God, Am I Nobody?
“And me? I’m singing your prowess, shouting at cockcrow your largesse, For you’ve been a safe place for me, a good place to hide. Strong God, I’m watching you do it, I can always count on you— God, my dependable love.” (Psalm 59:16 MESSAGE)
Me? I’m over here, singing.
Leaning back with a smile on my face.
Nothing’s gone wrong, you say? Ah no, plenty has gone wrong. No problems? Oh, enough and to spare.
I remember someone who used to shake her head sadly and quote that old line “Many -MANY- are the afflictions of the Righteous...” It’s true enough, but -speaking for myself- I sometimes get preoccupied with the oppression and opposition I face. Why so? It’s because sometimes they nag at me like a toothache, a constant and a persistent discomfort…
But the Psalmist is not just trying to “look on the bright side” and to cover up a million problems with a glib smile. Not at all. He has just discovered the second half of the verse: “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him from them all.” (Psalm 34:19)
All of ’em.
It’s easy to lean back and smile when everything is going swimmingly, but when difficulties arise I have to watch my attitude.
Jesus came that I might have abundant life, right? So today I want to claim this scripture that there’s a way for me to enjoy life even when the going suddenly gets tough.
And me? I’m singing your prowess, shouting at cockcrow your largesse… Whatever anybody else does, I have to find this for myself. I’m not going to be dragged back by a whole roomful of depressed faces.
I can be joyful and positive no matter what comes my way because I am not facing this with my own resources, but looking to Him and His prowess, his largesse. For God has always been a safe place…[and] a good place to hide. (And sometimes, Lord, that’s exactly all I need), but more that that I can always count on you and when my strength is utterly depleted: I’m watching you do it. You do for me what I cannot do for myself.
Why? Because you’re Strong God, — God, my dependable love. The reason you can sleep in the storm is because Jesus has already won your battle, whatever it may be!
I’m watching you do it!
And this is the glorious exchange: beauty for ashes, vision for blindness and party-clothes for sackcloth, Gratitude overwhelms despondency.
Praise is the enemy of dissatisfaction. You can’t sing and sulk at the same time. (At least, it requires a lot of effort.) Perhaps my depression is connected to my insolence and refusal to praise.
But it goes further. Nancy Leigh DeMoss wrote, with great insight: “God lives in the place of praise. If we want to be where He is, we need to go to His address.”
What is this that place? Howe can I get there?
I love the paraphrase (in the Message Bible) of Psalm 46: 10:
“Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.”
The Latin version of this verse (I’m reliably informed) translates literally as “Relax and take a holiday!” There’s so much going on all the time. It’s good, as they say, to “get away from it all.” The Message takes it even further here: “Step out of the traffic!” Unless you do this, that is to say, you’re liable to be overwhelmed by the sheer flow of “stuff” heading your way! There is traffic flowing through your eyes, your heart, your mind and every sense is alive and alert to a million impressions. It can be exhausting to sort it all out. So, frankly, it can be dangerous not to “be still ”and find a place “above politics, above everything.”
But how do you do it?
It starts with a decision to change your pace. Alexandra Potter put it well in The Two Lives of Miss Charlotte Merryweather: “And so, taking the long way home through the market I slow my pace down. It doesn’t come naturally. My legs are programmed to trot briskly and my arms to pump up and down like pistons, but I force myself to stroll past the stalls and pavement cafes. To enjoy just being somewhere, rather than rushing from somewhere, to somewhere. Inhaling deep lungfuls of air, instead of my usual shallow breaths. I take a moment to just stop and look around me. And smile to myself. For the first time in a long time, I can, quite literally, smell the coffee.”
But notice that “it doesn’t come naturally.” I have to make the decision “to enjoy just being somewhere, rather than rushing from somewhere, to somewhere.” And when you stop, and look about, then something remarkable happens: the traffic stops. Not for nothing is the time you spend with God in prayer often called a “quiet time.” That is to say, it takes both time and quiet to grow roots to your soul and to think things over. It takes time to develop any relationship that is worthwhile.
That’s what the Psalmist is referring to here. “Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God.” First the decision to step back, then the invitation to ponder deeply. It creates something amazing, which Albert Camus referred to (in a wonderful phrase) as “an invincible summer.” Here’s the bit:
“When you have once seen the glow of happiness on the face of a beloved person, you know that a man can have no vocation but to awaken that light on the faces surrounding him. In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”
The place of Praise is an invincible summer.