Much of my faithlife has been spent out of obedience, or more appropriately described as guilt. As a young girl I was faithful in attending mass with my mother, afraid of the consequences if I missed even one Sunday. After a time in college where I didn’t attend church at all, I went back to regular attendance in multiple denominations. At the root of it was a desire to be a loyal participant and therefore to be rewarded with an abundant life. I’d routinely skip over the parts of the Gospels that spoke of the “cost of discipleship”, and wonder why my life seemed anything but easy.
There is much to be said for obedience and exposure to worship, but my motivation was wrong in seeking a reward for my good behavior instead of enjoying my faith. That slowly began to change when I joined the Episcopal Church in 2008 and started reading the Psalter as part of my daily discipline.
There are 150 Psalms in the final compilation including themes that: (from the NIV):
1. The gravitational center of life, history and whole creation is God,
2. God will not tolerate any worldly power that opposes, denies, or ignores him,
3. he opposes the proud, those who rely on their own resources to work out their own destiny, and
4. he is the ultimate Executor of justice among humans (to avenge oneself is an act of the proud).
When I read the Psalms, many of them feel like woeful laments and I am trying to learn more about their context and teachings. One of them, Psalm 62 is my favorite which paints a picture of our soul resting in God.
Yesterday, the Psalm for the Second Sunday of Easter was Psalm 150 and I was struck that the very last Psalm didn’t fit neatly into the other themes. It was only about praising God: the where, why, how and who should praise Him. No pleadings with God to revenge my enemies, no lamenting a broken part of my life, just pure adoration.
My lesson from yesterday is to move on from obedience motivated by guilt to sitting with God in prayerful silence and just adoring him.
Praise the Lord.
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with timbrel and dancing,
praise him with the strings and pipe,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord.
Blessings, my friend,