READ: Psalm 135
THINK: I had iTunes on shuffle to provide some light background noise while I was working earlier today. It had been on about an hour, playing quietly, and I hadn’t really stopped and noticed a single song – which is, I think, the point of background noise. But then a song came on and immediately stopped me, distracted me from the work that I was doing, and sent my thoughts on what ended up being a really encouraging and uplifting rabbit trail.
The song was a Spanish-language worship song entitled Temprano Yo Te Buscaré * that is often played around 5:30am at Morning Prayer gatherings in the church my youth group has partnered with in South Texas over the last five years summers. Hearing it took me immediately back to the church and the surroundings and began bringing up memories of past trips, of all of the incredible and miraculous things that I have seen God do in people’s lives. And I spent time looking back at some of the remarkable changes I’ve seen students make because of how he moved in them, the countless ways in which he has provided for us, and the many people who have encountered Jesus and invited him into their lives through the testimony of our teams.
It was a really powerful time of reflection. But it was particularly powerful because of the irony of the moment. I was working on a project about the future vision, direction, goals, and mission of my ministry. In the middle of looking and thinking forward a song interrupted and forced me to look back. And it lifted me up! I was, admittedly, feeling a bit burnt out and overwhelmed by the weight and the scope of all the vision for the next year, and I was getting sick of typing the plan to turn in next week. As much as I love thinking about the future, at the end of a rough and busy few weeks for me personally, I was just feeling a little beaten down.
And then I remembered what I have seen God do. I looked back at who has been and how he has shown himself faithful in my life. I looked back at the goodness of the Lord I have seen in the land of the living. I looked back at the miracles he has worked in my life. I looked back at the things I felt overwhelmingly privileged to have seen and been a part of. And every square-inch of my soul was filled up again with peace, and hope, and wonder, and amazement, and praise. It changed the game for me. It changed my day. It altered the course of my visioning in a God-ward direction. And it forced me to come to grips with a powerful realization: I do far too little looking back at how God has worked in my life.
I think in the hustle and bustle and crazy busyness of life we often fail to make time to remember all the God has done for us. We forget to stop and be thankful. We get so focused on what’s next that we fail to hit pause every once in a while and allow ourselves to amazed all over again at what God has done. And we get beaten down by the world. We feel overwhelmed and frustrated and broken and empty sometimes and we wonder why. But the truth is that we have a deep well of encouragement – the story of God in our lives – to draw from if we’ll just stop to remember.
One thing I love about Psalm 135 is that, in the midst of a charge to worship God – it begins and ends with hallelujah which is literally the command “all of you praise God!” – there is a remembrance of what God has done. The Psalmist is saying, “He is the God who delivered Israel from Egypt. He is faithful. We know he is. And we know he will be. Because we know he has been! Remember. Remember what God did.”
I think we would do well to heed those words, especially in the difficult seasons of our lives. Whenever you’re feeling lost or lonely, broken or beaten: remember. Remember and let God fill you up with praise and wonder and worship. There is no other response that will lift you out of the pit the way that worship will. Hallelujah!
PRAY: Take a little time today and remember what God has done for you and the things that he has given you over the last year. Then say a prayer of worshipful thanks for the way he sustains you.
*Here’s a link to the song. It’s a good one. 🙂 And one that fit the theme of what God was doing in me today pretty well. It roughly translates – to the best of my limited knowledge: “Early in the morning I will seek you, I am near to you, my soul thirsts to see your power and your glory. I have found relief in the shadow of your wings, I will seek you, my soul is attached to you because your right hand sustains me, oh your right hand sustains me.”