Thursday, April 9, 2015

Outloud Every Which Way I Can

When one of our daughters was in the throes of teenage angst, I approached her as she cried one evening and asked, "What's the matter, sweetie?"

To which she replied, "I don't know!"

Things just seemed dismal and overwhelming in that season like the cold greyness of an endless winter.

I challenged her to "find the joy" -- to seek out and look for and be sensitive to just one "joy" in her day.  It helped her to not deny the hardships, but to refocus on the reality of God's Presence through it.

Every evening when she came home from school and swim team practice, she would have a little gleam in her eye.  The "joy" varied from day to day -- a great grade on a test, a good place to sit in the lunchroom, and as an extrovert the biggest treat of all, a new friend.  And most of the time, that one joy multiplied into many.  In the grand scheme of things, these instances would probably be considered insignificant and very forgettable details, but the exercise pulled her through a tough spot.

The actual effort was not just spotting something favorable or "looking on the bright side of life," but verbally recognizing and acknowledging God's blessings outloud.  Not just thinking about something good, or even being thankful for it, but thanking God for it.

Words matter.  They matter a lot.

My father grew up in a staunch German household where emotions were hidden away in a bottom drawer somewhere and words were like a limited wartime ration, never to be wasted.  For the most part in my growing up years, he was largely a silent presence.  He was also a research chemist who could happily spend weeks in a laboratory, never even speaking to another human being.  

I can remember asking him at one point, "Dad, why do you never tell me that you love me?"  And he immediately replied, "Well, you know that I do."

Is that how I treat God Almighty? 

I have trained myself lately not just to recognize a blessing, but to acknowledge it verbally outloud.  Not just recognize something good or "find the joy" in a difficult situation, but acknowledge God's hand in it.  Not just being thankful, but thankful to God.

Jesus performed miracles intentionally to point others to God.  There was always a deeper loving purpose in His acts of redeeming and restoration.  Point others to God.   A blessing is never just for you alone, but bears more dimensions than can be comprehended.  He has given you a story not just to be hidden away in a drawer, but used in the lives of others to the furthest generation.

We will not hide them from their children,
but tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the LORD,
                        and His might,
and the wonders which he has wrought.
...that the next generation might know them,
the children yet unborn,
and arise and tell them to their children,
so that they should
            set their hope in God...

                          Psalm 78. 4, 6-7

This is not just a blessing.
This is a blessing from God Himself.

Let my words
    not just acknowledge His goodness,
but let my life acknowledge 
                     the reality of God.

Praise the LORD!
For it is good
    to sing praises to our God.

                   Psalm 147. 1

Every which way I can.

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