Jeanne and I used to laugh when classroom teachers were smothered in flowers during Teacher Appreciation Week, or when they amassed stacks of Starbucks gift cards during the weeks leading up to Christmas.
As reading teachers working in small intervention groups, we might have received a candle that looked like it had been lit, an apple-pin slightly tarnished, a Santa Claus mug that looked suspiciously re-gifted, or our personal favorite — a Starbucks card with a zero balance. (I should add that Jeanne and I LOVED our jobs and cared not a bit …we just found this gift phenomenon quite humorous!)
I remember one occasion when a classroom teacher and I were conferring at her desk and little Stephen (pseudonym) approached us holding out two gift bags. “Merry Christmas!” he said brightly, extending the gifts in our direction. “Oh, how sweet!” I thought. But just as I reached out – Stephen turned abruptly and handed BOTH gift bags to the classroom teacher.
I couldn’t wait to tell Jeanne!!
There was one gift, however, that I received from a mom in 2004 that I treasure to this day — a little book called, 31 Days of Praise by Ruth and Warren Myers. (Granted, it was probably a re-gift from her basement bookshelf, but who cares?)
“My heart rejoices in You, Oh Lord, for you are my strong shelter in times of trouble and danger and stress, my hiding place to whom I am continually resort, my Father who lovingly provides for me…my Shepherd who guides and protects me, my Champion who upholds my cause as His child and defends my highest interests…my Bridegroom who delights in me…my God who is mighty to save”
The Westminster Catechism asks, What is the chief aim of man? and the response reads, “to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.”
Psalm 100:4 says, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; Give thanks to him and praise his name.”
I believe that praising God is the antidote for chronic self-preoccupation, free-floating anxiety, and loneliness. It does, however, require intentionality on our part. A reorientation.
In Psalm — 103 David seems to be lecturing his own soul. “Praise the Lord, oh my soul. Praise the Lord, all my inmost being, praise His holy name. Praise the Lord, oh my soul, and forget not all His benefits.”
So perhaps like David, we should be stepping to the podium and lecturing our own Soul. This is not a discussion!
“Get with it, oh Soul of Mine! You were created to look outside yourself, to the One who made you — the forgiver of your sins, the author of your joy, your constant companion who delights in you! Don’t even THINK of checking Facebook or shopping the Target sales! Repeat after me…”
1 Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2 Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits–
3 who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
6The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.
7 He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel:
8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.
15 As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children–
18 with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.
19 The LORD has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.
20 Praise the LORD, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word.
21 Praise the LORD, all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will.
22 Praise the LORD, all his works everywhere in his dominion. Praise the LORD, O my soul.