Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Step into the Garden

Praise the LORD.

My son lives in New Jersey. I live in Atlanta. Last night, he flew into the huge Atlanta airport for several days’ business in the city. My wife and I met him at the airport. [Note: we parked the car and went in and met him as he was coming through the “Arrivals Lobby.” We didn’t just get on our cell phones and make arrangements to pick him up in the car at the white curb, “used for passenger loading and unloading only,” to make it more convenient for us.] We do that because even the few minutes walking through the airport together are treasured. People don’t do that, or think like that much anymore.

We drove to my brother’s home, where we all sat around a table and had Kentucky Fried Chicken, cole slaw, fake potatoes and gravy, corn and one of those chocolate chip cakes for dessert. Family time. Deliciously talking about nothing in the living room for several hours before my son, my wife and I left to take him to the hotel where he would be staying. Just listening to the voices we love.

As we pulled into the hotel my son asked me, “Dad, how much of a drive is it from here to where you live?”

“About forty, forty-five minutes,” I replied.

“Gee, Dad,” he said, “That’s a long drive. Thanks for coming down here and bustling me about.”

“My pleasure, son. Absolutely no problem at all.”

And it wasn’t. But when I got back, I was tired. It was a good tired. I had had a few hours with my son. Quiet joy warmed my heart.

He will understand someday, if he doesn’t already, when his two girls, now teenagers, become adults, marry, have children of their own, and maybe (although for their parent’s sake, I hope not) live far away, how priceless time with someone you love really is.

When I talk to others about my son, as well as my two daughters, I always speak in glowing terms. The same goes for my three step-children. Ok, so I know they are human. They are very much aware that I am, too. None of that matters in the slightest. My heart swells with joy and pride at how blessed, at how fortunate I am.

That, my friend, is praise. One may think that praising God, is singing hymns of praise, or holding your hands high in the air and swaying back and forth. That may be, but if we think that is all there is to it, or even that it is the best and most appropriate way to praise God, then we have reduced praise to a religious discipline, an exercise in piety, like the phylacteries on the heads and arms of the Pharisees, of which Jesus spoke. We have put praise on a par with a good, healthy belch, and seriously missed the point.

Provided one is not trying to impress someone with how spiritual one is, the phrases, “Praise God,” or “Lord, I praise you,” have their place only if they truly reflect the joy of his presence.

Is this a bit of an insight on “Praise,” here? Is praise given because God needs it; or requires it, or even that he is necessarily pleased by it? I doubt that God finds much satisfaction in our praise, in and of itself. And, I suspect it doesn’t contribute much to helping him feel good about himself.

Praise, true praise, may be a bit like a different dimension of forgiveness. It benefits the one doing the praising more than the one praised. Praising God does not enrich him near so much as it enriches me.

Praise is the result of time spent with God. Praise is an expression of gratitude that you and He are spiritually related and engaged with one another.

Plain and simple.

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