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Posts Tagged ‘Psalm 42:5’

 

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Most Sunday mornings, I have no trouble engaging in worship. Between the lyrics of the songs, scripture-readings, and the leader’s comments, I’m quickly transported into God’s presence and worshiping with gladness (Psalm 100:2). Sometimes my heart soars to the very gates of heaven and the joy overflows as tears.

But not always. There are other times when my heart seems numb, for no apparent reason. Why is that, and should I be concerned?

Perhaps. If I’ve allowed unconfessed sin to fester, then my connection to God will be negatively impacted.

But what if I have addressed my shortcomings with God, and still feel disconnected? What then?

I need to remember the following:

  • Worship is sometimes an act of the will. “Put your hope in God,” the psalmist said, “for I will yet praise him” (Psalm 42:5). Worship wasn’t meant to be reserved only for moments of elation; it’s a choice. Job is a perfect example. After he was stripped of everything—cattle, flocks, servants, even his children—Job worshiped (Job 1:20). That astounds me.

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  • God isn’t as concerned about our feelings during worship as he is about our sincerity (John 4:24). We can earnestly worship even if spiritual bliss eludes us.
  • God hasn’t promised we’ll always feel his presence. Sometimes he intentionally hides his face (Isaiah 45:15). It’s part of our maturation process that he occasionally allows a bit of distance between him and us.

I remember the first day of kindergarten. My mother dropped me off in front of the school, and told me to go inside to the classroom we had visited.

I would have much preferred if she had walked with me and made sure all was well before leaving me to fend for myself. What if I couldn’t find the right classroom, or the teacher wasn’t there?

But allowing me this bit of separation was part of my maturing process. I needed to learn I could trust Mom’s instructions—even when she wasn’t in sight. (Lest you think my parents were negligent, kindergarten was just inside the school door, to the left!)

In review:

  1. Sometimes worship is an act of the will.
  2. Sincerity is more important than feelings.
  3. Sometimes God distances himself a bit to grow our trust.

But would we be wrong to do what we can to forge a stronger connection to God, and, as a result, engage our emotions more fully?

I don’t think so.

David offers several examples in the psalms, when he expressed his honest feelings of abandonment, depression, dejection and more. He did not end his honest proclamations on a negative note, but concluded with expressions of praise and assurance, which surely impacted his emotions. (See Psalm 77:1-15 for one example).*

 

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We can foster a stronger connection to God, and augment our worship with:

  • Gratitude – Even on our way to church, we can thank him for creation and his many blessings. Gratitude turns our gaze toward heaven.
  • Meditative Prayer – Before the service begins, praise God for his attributes, demonstrated day by day the previous week. Meditation ushers us into the presence of God.
  • Focus – Stay attentive to the words of the music, the scripture, the prayer. Fight against wandering thoughts. “If worship is mindless, it is meaningless” (Rick Warren).
  • Visualization – Imagine God on his throne, radiant with light, majestic and glorious, raised up in the sanctuary. See our resplendent God who is highly worthy of our full attention!

 

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As our spirits become engaged in these ways, the emotions of awestruck wonder, unspeakable joy, and overwhelming love will undoubtedly follow!

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What do you do that helps to connect you with God during worship? Share with us in the Comment section below!

*(No doubt these psalms were not written during Sabbath worship. Surely David worshiped God every day, to his benefit and for God’s pleasure. But that’s a topic for another post!)

(Art & photo credits:  www.ohbejoyfulchurch.org; http://www.bibleencyclopedia.com; http://www.banah.org; http://www.godthetruth.ws.)

 

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psalm-42.5

 

On Friday, September 26, my younger brother, John, called with the heartbreaking news that our mother, age 85, had suffered a massive stroke. Her entire right side was affected; she could neither see nor talk. The prognosis left little room for hope.

By Sunday morning I was on a plane for Austin, Texas, to see Mom and care for Dad (age 90) while John and his wife, Collene, took care of numerous business matters related to Mom’s and Dad’s welfare.

For at least ten years Mom has been Dad’s primary care giver, due to his degenerative arthritis and Parkinson’s disease. But she considered her responsibilities a privilege, often saying, “He took care of me for many years; now it’s my turn. He’s my ministry now.”

For ten days we put our hope in God and witnessed his power at work.  In spite of great sadness, we could say, “For we will yet praise him, our Savior and our God” (Psalm 42:5), as he blessed us with his presence, guidance, and provision.

Mom was taken to Brackenridge, a teaching hospital, where she received conscientious, compassionate care. Doctors and nurses alike spent time with us, patiently explaining Mom’s condition and what we could expect.

Though she could not speak, and her brain had sustained extensive damage due to swelling, Mom communicated her love with hand squeezes. She also drew our hands to her lips for kisses.

My daughter, Heather, received permission from her kind boss to take time away from work and fly to Austin. She was able to stay for three days, visiting her grandmother, offering help, and lifting the spirits of us all.

On Day Five, I believe, it was recommended that Mom be moved to Hospice.   Immediately the name of a highly respected facility came to Collene’s mind. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Grandma were taken to Christopher House, she thought. But that particular hospice is small. What were the chances that a bed would be available? Collene kept the thought to herself, just in case Mom was assigned elsewhere.

Sure enough, a representative from Christopher House came to the hospital and directed us through the process to have Mom transferred there. An added blessing: John and Collene knew one of the nurses. She asked to be assigned to our mother for the duration of Mom’s stay.

Meanwhile, we visited three nursing homes for Dad. (He had told Mom on numerous occasions, “Just put me in a nursing home!” She wouldn’t hear of it. Only four months ago did she agree to have a care-giver come four hours a day.)

All three facilities were close to John and Collene, all relatively new.   One seemed a particularly good fit for Dad’s needs and interests.

Two doctor’s appointments, many phone calls, and much paperwork later, Dad was approved and processed for admittance to the nursing home we had hoped for.   The day before my flight home I did laundry for Dad, gathered toiletries and other items, and marked his name on all belongings.

The next morning, Wednesday, John and Collene got Dad settled, and I flew home.

Later, John sent me a video of Dad playing a piano duet with a staff member. Granted, he could only play with one finger, but he packed a lot of rhythm and soul into those single notes.  What a delight to see him having a good time–already.

That night we spoke by phone.  Dad told me the folks at his dining table enjoyed his jokes, and he’d already taken advantage of the library.

On Thursday, October 9, Mom graduated to heaven. It was her father’s birthday.

Do they celebrate birthdays in heaven? I’d like to think that my grandmother and grandfather stood at the gate to greet Mom, as Jesus ushered her in. Together with many family and friends who already reside in heaven, they celebrated her arrival as a precious gift for Gramps’ birthday. Somehow it seems very fitting.

 

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You can read my mother’s story at http://www.memorialwebsites.legacy.com/gerischaub.

 

(Photo credit:  www.jeanierhoades.com )

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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