I wrote this song a while back but the lyrics spoke to me again today so I thought I would share it.
Today I Will Praise You
The ground beneath keeps shaking
To my knees I fall once more
Blinded by the hurt inside
Crying out to you my Lord
Can I praise when I can’t feel you?
Can’t pretend to understand
Why my tears seem to fall
On a dry and barren land
Yes…Today I will praise you
Because yesterday is gone
Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed
Yet you remain strong
So Today I’ll Praise You
Praise you for the blessings
You lavished in the past
The way you gave me more
Than I ever could have asked
I’ll praise you with the rising sun
Praise you in the dark of night
Keep looking where I saw you last
Hold my breath I’ll be alright
You orchestrate creation
Lives revolve in your hands
Though I walk through the valley
I will trust…I will trust…in your plan
And today I’ll choose to praise you
Today I will praise you
Because yesterday is gone
Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed
Yet you remain strong
Today and everyday…
Today, I will praise you
I have always had quite the imagination. I was a latch key kid from about fourth grade on. So on particularly long summer days when my mom was at work and I wasn’t allowed to go outside, my world existed mostly in my head. My bathroom shower was a waterfall in Jamaica. Underneath the guest bed was a prehistoric cave and the kitchen was a cafe in Paris. But it was the crocodile infested swamps of some hot and sticky locale that I frequented. I would gather everything I could possibly need for the day…snacks, phone, books, toys…and pile them onto my bed with me. I pretended that the floor was a pit, just full of hungry mouths waiting to devour me if I left my bed. When nature called I would hop from a piece of furniture to pillow turned stepping stone, until I had made it from the security of my bed to the safety beyond my bedroom door.
After the last week, my instinct is to once again gather everything of value to me and retreat to safety under the covers of my bed. In the last week, a good friend’s baby died in her womb. A 13 year old boy lost both his parents and sisters when a drunk driver in a Semi truck plowed into them, a courageous woman held her husband’s hand and bid him farewell as her title changed from wife to widow, another friend’s mother lost her battle with cancer, and a group of people in the prime of their lives were attacked in Boston.
I woke up this morning and decided I didn’t want to even bother getting out of bed. After about 20 minutes, the kids tired of doing nothing so I had my neighbor take Garrett to school, Nyah went next door for a math lesson and Ava played with her baby dolls. I tried to bury the pain of death and destruction that sits outside my door. But as I burrowed deeper under the pillow, I remembered that nothing can keep death at bay. It snuck up on my very house and robbed us of life.
Since David’s death, when people have asked how I’m doing, my response has been, “God is still good.” But this morning as I rolled over and curled into a ball, wallowing in self pity and aching for all those who are feeling the same way, I wasn’t even sure I believed that anymore. Can I really praise Him when I can’t feel him? When the evidence surrounding us points to the work of evil not good? I decided I would try on being angry at God. That I would skip my bible reading, that I would withhold my worship, that I would stew in my righteous indignation.
So I opened my eyes and willed the tears to clear. I tossed my bible and my notebooks onto the floor. I turned the ringer off and shoved my phone under the covers. Effectively pushing away everything of value that I had gathered. But the very next thing I saw was my literal inability to separate myself from the word of God. It is tattooed on my arm…in the original Greek.
Rejoice in the Lord always…Philippians 4:4
Ugh, it made me so mad! I would have to cut off my arm to rid myself of all vestiges of the God I had determined I no longer wanted. I wanted to run. I wanted to be angry, not rejoice. I resented the reminder that we always have a reason to rejoice in the Lord. But that is why I had that put on my arm. I knew there would come a day that I would need a visual reminder of the promise that that verse has brought me over the years. The rest of the verse is, “…again, I say rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to all for the Lord is near.”
The truth wouldn’t leave me even when I wanted to leave it. I have to laugh now because who is really the one punished when we withhold ourselves from the Lord? It isn’t God.
Its 245 and I am still in pajamas. But I have finally made it out of bed. I wish I could say that this downward spiral is over. But the reality is I know there is a long road ahead of me and everyone whose new companion is the pain of loss. But nothing can separate us from the love of God or His presence. And while we might think we need to take up arms, barricade ourselves in the house, or under the covers to find comfort; true safety comes from the shelter of the most high. The One who promises to shield us under His wings like an eagle. Just like he closed the mouths of the lions for Daniel, He alone holds the ability to keep the crocodiles at bay.
“Remain in me, and I in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself, it must remain in the vine…” John 15:4
When David was training for special ops they did an exercise called buddy breathing. Two people are submerged in water with one snorkel; or in deep water, one dive tank. They link arms to stay connected and one person takes a breath through the snorkel or valve and then passes it to the other. This is actually harder than it sounds. If the partners don’t work together to synchronize the timing of their breaths and trust one another completely, panic sets in and it goes downhill very quickly.
The same concept is true within the fellowship of believers. We jump into the water of life circumstances thinking we’ve got our situation handled. But when the seas become stormy and we start taking on water, we rapidly conclude we cannot do this alone. And isolation is not God’s design for us anyway. He didn’t equip any one person with everything necessary for survival. He distributed different gifts throughout the body of believers for a purpose.
Today was a reminder of my need for others. Today was Garrett’s first football game and when I awoke this morning to the realization that this was the first of many such events David would never get to be a part of, I found myself gasping for breath. To make matters worse, lately I have been struggling to feel the Lord’s presence on a personal level. I see evidence of His work in others, but I keep begging God to breathe life into me again. Today I was shown the spirit of the Lord has many faces. He can be seen in unique ways when we spend time in community.
“Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the spirit of God lives in you?” 1 Corinthians 3:16
He put all of us on this planet together. But sometimes he woos us to a valley. And in that valley it can be difficult to realize we aren’t alone. It’s even harder when God himself also feels distant. But I’m learning that when I can’t experience Him personally, or recognize that He’s still moving in my life, He is still present. I can see Him in the face of my son’s football coach who volunteers his time to pour into young lives. I can hear Him in the voice of a dear friend who cared enough to boldly tell me I was so caught up in what I’ve lost that I have forgotten how much I am loved still. I can feel Him in the hugs of a dozen college students who gave up their Saturday night to encourage me and the kids. And His fingerprints are all over the little hands that hold mine as we navigate this present darkness together. So I will cling to the promise His word is true…
“Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.” Hosea 2:14
He doesn’t lead us to the desert just to abandon us there. He leads us to a place stripped of ourselves so that we can better hear His voice and recognize the earthly model of a relationship with Him. The bride of Christ. The fellowship of believers.
We can’t save each other. Only He can do that. But as we wait for His return, we wait together. We must jump in the water and buddy breathe until rescue comes.