Friday, January 20
A few years ago my wife and I went on a driving tour of Ireland. We had the opportunity to see beautiful and wonderful things, many of them being the untouched creation of God. Each morning we would leave our bed and breakfast early, then ride around and visit as many sites as we could fit in between dusk and dawn, making sure to get to our next bed and breakfast before the sun went down. Why? It was near impossible to navigate the streets and backroads of the smaller towns of Ireland in the evening.
It was the fourth or fifth night into our journey, and we were having an exceptionally hard time finding our resting place for the evening. We were driving (unknowingly) in the wrong direction, as the sun was starting to set. There was a faint mist in the air and mountains ahead. I watched as the sky and mountains turned from shades of gray to the most vivid reds, purples, yellows, oranges, and more. It is not hyperbole to say that it was the most beautiful sunset I had ever seen in my life. I was focused on how beautiful the sunset was, and I kept on oohing, awing, and driving in the wrong direction; however, my wife was focused on getting us safely to our destination, pouring through papers and maps. I begged her to look up and take at look at the wondrous sight, but she wouldn’t have it; she told me to turn around (in the opposite direction of the sunset!) because we had made a wrong turn. I turned around to avoid a fight (or more of one), but stopped when I saw a decent pull off. I said, “You have to look at how beautiful the sunset is!” We both got out of the car. We oohed and awed together. We snapped a photo or two that did not do the scene justice, and we drove off with a memory.
In that moment, I saw something that I wanted to give praise to. I was amazed and astounded. I thanked God, but that did not do it justice. I had to share it. I had to tell someone (now several someones) about it. In fact, it was hard to think or speak of anything else. C.S. Lewis says in Reflection on the Psalms ,
“I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation….It is frustrating to have discovered a new author and not to be able to tell anyone how good he is; to come suddenly, at the turn of the road, upon some mountain valley of unexpected grandeur and then to have to keep silent because the people with you care for it no more than for a tin can in the ditch; to hear a good joke and find no one to share it with… Fully to enjoy is to glorify. In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him.”
God has called us to enjoy His many wonderful attributes throughout the Psalms. He is patient, kind, caring, merciful, just, faithful, and unrelenting. While He is exalted in the highest heavens with knowledge too lofty to attain, He is a personal, close, and specific Father who gives us every opportunity to allow Him to work and act in our lives. The highest of praise goes to an infinite God who has loved us so much! BUT, praise is far beyond acknowledgement. Praise is an immersive experience. It may be great to see something praiseworthy, but to fully experience praise, we must share it. Praise is not only see to see the sunset, it is to let others know and share in the moment. When we experience His blessing, His healing, His power, His comfort, or His love, we cannot be silent or accept; we cannot let it go under the radar. We must let others know. In this, we have then offered praise.
“Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; This splendor is above the earth and the heavens. And he has raised up for his people a horn, the praise of all his faithful servants, of Israel, the people close to his heart” Psalm 148:13-14.
“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.” 150:6
(Photo credit: Aaron Winner – most beautiful sunset)