But be filled with the Spirit, as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts,giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:18-20 NRSV)
Yesterday morning, I woke up joyful, praising God, and waiting for the other shoe to drop. I hate to admit it, but sometimes I get a little uneasy when I rejoice. Rather than simply inhabiting the moment of thankfulness and praise, I look ahead and wonder how long it will last. How long before some new adversity insinuates itself into the moment, interrupting my grateful thoughts, and quenching my jubilant spirit? How long before I completely surrender my thoughts to life’s distractions?
Whether I attribute them to fear of looming life storms or errant cynicism, these apprehensions tend to target my most spontaneous worship moments, creating a concentrated campaign to usurp my joy and stifle my praise. Every second I give to such thoughts is a second stolen from God.
Another problem with this attitude, when it emerges, is its overemphasis on emotion and temporary circumstances in my praise habits. My fear that future concerns will impact my capacity to worship suggests the praise is more about how I feel in the moment, and less about who God is all the time. If I need further proof of this, I need only think of how episodic my praise tends to be.
When healing, deliverance from problems, and other blessings pour into my life; I praise. I’ve even learned to give thanks at low points in life, when praise is simply expressing gratitude for Christ’s presence in a dark valley and the assurance all believers have, that God’s power supersedes present trials.
But yesterday didn’t fall into either of these extremes–neither triumph, nor disaster. Yet still, I woke up praising.
Maybe it simply took a mundane, yet joyful moment to remind me of something important.
Praise is the believer’s vernacular, not a ceremonial language reserved only for life’s grand moments: its exuberant plateaus or its beleaguered trenches.
Ephesians 5:18-20 describes worship as a lifestyle. It’s meant to permeate both interpersonal interactions and private thoughts, in all circumstances. I don’t always know what this worship habit looks like, but the Scripture and precious faith mentors teach me more every day. Such lessons require practice, with God’s help, and time.