PRAISE HIM (THANKSGIVING 2016)

water lilies
Hallelujah! Praise God in his holy house of worship, praise him under the open skies;
Praise him for his acts of power, praise him for his magnificent greatness;
Praise with a blast on the trumpet, praise by strumming soft strings;
Praise him with castanets and dance, praise him with banjo and flute;
Praise him with cymbals and a big bass drum, praise him with fiddles and mandolin.
Let every living, breathing creature praise God! Hallelujah! [Psalm 150 (MSG)]

I’d gotten sidetracked taking pictures of the water lilies at the Botanic Gardens. I looked around for my husband and saw him sitting quietly on a nearby bench. Although his head was down, I knew he wasn’t snoozing. “He really is amazing, isn’t He?” I said, sitting down beside him. We both spent a few minutes reflecting on how great our God is and thanking Him for using all 120 of the crayons in his heavenly box when he made the flowers. He’s an extraordinary artist!

Thanks and praise—we tend to lump them both together and, yet, they’re not really the same. Thanks are for gifts given; praise is for the giver of the gifts! We thanked our children for the organic farm tour they gave us but praised them for finding such a unique and fun present! A friend thanked me for writing this blog but it was her praise for my writing that put a smile on my face.

While it’s easy to thank God for his many gifts, I question, “Who am I to praise God for His splendor and works?” Perhaps it’s because I feel so insignificant and inept in comparison to our great and magnificent God. I tend to think we should have competency in an area for our praise to be of value. For example, I could easily thank pianist Lang Lang for a concert but, no matter how much I loved his performance, my lack of expertise would probably keep me from praising his musical interpretation of the piece. I’ve played Bach’s fugues so I could thank him for composing them but, given how poorly I’ve played them, I wouldn’t feel knowledgeable enough to praise the composer for the intricate counterpoint of his work. While I take nature photographs, I can’t hold a candle to the work of Thomas Mangelsen and know nothing of f-stops, apertures, ISO, or shutter speeds. I question whether praise from someone who is an amateur like me  would mean anything to him or to other people of achievement.

If I feel unqualified to praise mere humans, no wonder I’m hesitant to praise God. Yet, when I think about it, praise is praise, whether it comes from an expert or simply an appreciative fan. We don’t need to be accomplished in a field to know what we find inspiring, beautiful, remarkable or impressive and something tells me that sincere praise is always music to someone’s ears.

My small brain can’t fathom the 4,500 stars I might see tonight let alone the 300 billion in the Milky Way and the estimated 70 billion trillion stars God scattered in the universe. I have enough trouble understanding the way bees make honey let alone how God managed to think up some 950,000 other kinds of insects. Try as I will, I can’t truly grasp how a cherry blossom becomes a juicy sweet cherry, how an egg connects with a sperm and results in a baby with a soul, or how the 86 billion nerve cells in my brain make it possible for me to breathe, walk, talk, and chew gum at the same time. I have no idea how God managed to think up giggles, rainbows, bird songs, dolphins, water lilies, butterflies, peonies, strawberries, giraffes, snow or sunsets. Nevertheless, I realize it’s not necessary to be an expert in astronomy, entomology, biology, zoology, botany, or any other science to appreciate and praise the work of our magnificent God. Our praise is music to His godly ears and surely will put a smile on His divine face.

On this day of thanksgiving, let’s be sure to add a little praise to our thanks. Well done, God; well done!

Have you ever come on anything quite like this extravagant generosity of God, this deep, deep wisdom? It’s way over our heads. We’ll never figure it out. Is there anyone around who can explain God? Anyone smart enough to tell him what to do? Anyone who has done him such a huge favor that God has to ask his advice? Everything comes from him; Everything happens through him; Everything ends up in him. Always glory! Always praise! Yes. Yes. Yes. [Romans 11:33-36 (MSG)]

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