Thanksgiving week affords a rare early morning extended quiet time to reflect and give thanks in front of the crackling wood stove. Last night at my worship band rehearsal I had one of those aha moments. I was moving toward this when I chose to open our worship services with this verse.
“I will praise God’s name in song
and glorify him with thanksgiving.” (Psalms 69:30 NIV)
What caught my eye was the fact that we glorify God with thanksgiving. This powerful resolution came from the heart and pen of David in the midst of one of his darkest psalms. He is virtually drowning in “deep waters” relationally and spiritually. Dealing with rejection, enemies, ridicule, and his own sinfulness, he can’t see the God he loves and desperately needs. Just before he resolves to praise God and give thanks he says, “I am in pain and distress.” (v.29)
Last night, I shared an excerpt from fellow worship leader, Wayne Stewart’s book Bigger with my friends in the band. To summarize the main premise of his book, he says that we are all on a continuum in our outlook and expression of worship from smaller to bigger. Smaller is characterized by a view that worship is one hour a week. Bigger is that worship is the expression of all of our life. I asked them to share how they have grown to practice their expression of worship in their everyday lives. Food, blessings, God’s continual presence, his peace that surpasses all understanding, his sovereignty directing the very details of our lives were some of their answers. Then it hit me. Recognition of those things is the first step, but recognition alone is not an expression of worship. Thanksgiving is. The moment we recognize that every good and perfect gift comes down from our Father above and turn and give thanks, we glorify him.
Lately, I’ve been captured by another statement in the Psalms from David. Demonstrating a life outlook of bigger worship, he says, “I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.” (Psalms 16:8 ESV). I have previously stated that listening to worship music is one way that we continually set the Lord before us. Thanksgiving is another way. Every time we recognize the hand of God in our lives, when we say the simple words, “Thank you,” we are glorifying him. The more we give thanks to God, the bigger our worship grows. David lived a life of this practice to the point that even in the middle of his darkest moments he resolved to praise the Lord and glorify him with thanksgiving. This is a practical example of what it means to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV).
My “thank you” begins with the very reason I have this extended quiet time to write this morning. My beloved wife, Julie and kids, Billy, Maria, Ben and Brandon are enjoying a desert retreat at a condo with a friend, and I miss them. I have a ‘loud,’ busy, chaotic life and I give thanks to God for these precious children that make it that way. I give thanks for every interruption and intrusion into my innate need for solace, for the messy house and broken things, the never ending work, and even the overwhelming challenges and emotions that accompany parenting, revealing my shortcomings (aka sins), drawing me to greater dependence upon the Lord and others for help. I’m so thankful for my partner in it all, Julie Ann, with strength and beauty and selfless expression of love for us all through relentless service. I’m thankful that I live in close proximity to so many of our extended family, seeing them often. I praise the Lord for treasured friends, and time playing music together, or meaningful conversations over a bike ride, cup of coffee, a burger or burrito. I’m thankful for my other family, Trinity Church, experiencing the ‘deep waters’ together over the past few years has caused us to draw closer to the Lord and the practice of “loving one another deeply from the heart.” Sunrises, sunsets, our beautiful valley, my dog, Shadow, the color green, my parent’s Autumn Blaze Maple tree (above), Trader Joe’s Ultra Dark Chocolate Ice Cream, In-N-Out burger, the Word of God, a good novel, yes, thank you, Father, for all of these things from the simplest pleasures to the most profound blessings. Every joy comes from you and so I glorify you with thanksgiving and say along with the psalmist, “Let everything that has breath, praise the LORD!” (Psalms 150:6 ESV).