Awake, O my soul, with the music of his splendor-song!
Arise, my soul, and sing his praises!
My worship will awaken the dawn,
greeting the daybreak with my songs of praise!
Wherever I go I will thank you, my God.
Among all the nations they will hear my praise songs to you.
Your love is so extravagant it reaches to the heavens,
Your faithfulness so astonishing it stretches to the sky!
Lord God, be exalted as you soar throughout the heavens.
May your shining glory be shown in the skies!
Let it be seen high above all the earth!
-King David in Psalm 57 TPT
As for me, I will always have hope;
I will praise you more and more.
My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds,
of your saving acts all day long—
though I know not how to relate them all.
I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, Sovereign Lord;
I will proclaim your righteous deeds, yours alone.
Since my youth, God, you have taught me,
and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds.
Even when I am old and gray,
do not forsake me, my God,
till I declare your power to the next generation,
your mighty acts to all who are to come.
(Psalm 71:14-18 NIV)
Let the rivers and streams clap with applause
as the mountains rise in a standing ovation
to join the mighty choir of exaltation.
Look! Here he comes! The Lord and judge of all the earth!
He’s coming to make things right and to do it fair and square.
And everyone will see that he does all things well!
(Psalm 98:8,9 TPT)
Often, when I am driving through a mountain valley, the forest trees remind me of a mass choir standing on every hillside. The line from the old hymn, plays in my heart, “All nature sings and round me rings the music of the spheres.”
Can you hear it?
“Then how glad the nations will be when you are their King.
They will sing, they will shout, for you give true justice to the people.
Yes! You, Lord, are the shepherd of the nations!
Pause in his presence.
No wonder the peoples praise you!
Let all the people praise you more!
The harvest of the earth is here!
God, the very God we worship,
keeps us satisfied at his banquet of blessings.“
Psalm 26:4-6 The Passion Translation
I thank you, Lord, and with all the passion of my heart
I worship you in the presence of angels!
Psalm 138:1 TPT
Another painted prayer from last weekend. As I met with friends who also feel an urge to pray for our city, our valley and for our country, I kept hearing the phrase, Even the nights are better.
We talked about our experiences. Most of us are familiar with night seasons. Some in our group wake during the night hearing a call to pray for someone or something that burdens their hearts. For others, struggles with pain of all sorts seem more intense at night; loneliness, loss, and physical pain arise in the darkness. Circumstances that confront us with the unknown can take us to a place where the façade of being in control impresses no one. But everyone agreed, the night season has its beauty.
In that quietness, in that place void of daytime distractions, we can learn to enter another type of rest — that is, when we stop protesting long enough to hear to the still small voice that whispers comfort.
While the band played and the people sang, I picked up my brush and quickly painted the picture in my mind. It reminded me of the beauty of the night season when the Lover of my soul, my Keeper, my True Hope comforts me with his songs and when I can respond to him with my own.
Yes, Lord. In your presence, even the nights are better.
Yet all day long God’s promises of love pour over me.
Through the night I sing his songs,
for my prayer to God has become my life…
So I say to my soul,
“Don’t be discouraged. Don’t be disturbed.
For I know my God will break through for me.”
Then I’ll have plenty of reasons to praise him all over again.
Yes, living before his face is my saving grace!
Psalm 42:8, 11 TPT
I haven’t painted anything for nearly a year. Sometimes I take out a canvas, put it on the easel and ask, “What should I paint?” I stare at it for a while. I go through my idea file of photos looking for something that inspires me. Then I pack everything back in the closet and go fold laundry or check Facebook again.
It’s kind of like spending an hour looking for just the right Netflix show to accompany a nap on the couch and then, failing to be enticed by yet another description of the protagonist’s discovery of a “dark secret,” turning the TV off and going back to work without the satisfaction of either a movie or a snooze.
Ususally I am energized by creative endeavours, but I’ve been slacking off writing lately too. I’m trying to discipline myself to make more progress on a big project, but it feels like I’ve been on a long climb for a long time.
It’s a strange place. The air is thinner here. My steps are slower. My stride shuffles rather than bounds. I measure progress on the novel by paragraphs completed instead of chapters. I measure personal progress in terms of surviving another day without letting fear or irritability dominate…too much.
I’m not depressed. I’m well-acquainted with what depression feels like. This is more like the fatigue that comes from working on a restoration project that has no end in sight — or climbing a mountain that is a lot higher than it seemed when the trek started.
Nasty side effects of medication I’m told I need keep me house-bound more than I like, even as an introvert. After four surgeries (one which was only the removal of a big toenail, but hey, that took a disappointingly long time to heal), my body is going to need time to fully recover. I understand that. But I’m tired of being tired.
This week, friends issued an invitation for artists to come and paint during an evening dedicated to worship. Burn 24-7 calls for no agenda but focus on God and his goodness. People who attend are free to worship in whatever way the Lord leads them. Some sing. Some dance. Some wave banners. Some sit quietly. Some paint.
I’ve heard this type of art experience labeled prophetic art. Others call it worship art. One of my friends calls the finished pictures “painted prayers.” Any of those terms work for me. I decided, despite not feeling well this week, that I needed to go. I need to worship.
As I packed my tubes of paint and checked the condition of brushes I asked the Lord what I should paint. I had no idea. When I have painted at events like this before I often don’t know what’s going to happen until the music plays for a while. Nothing profound came to mind, but when I got there I realized that part of a choral song called Lux Aeterna had been playing in my head all day. The English translation is, “May light eternal shine upon them, O Lord, with Thy saints forever, for Thou art kind.”
I remembered a day almost a year ago when I walked through the tall cathedral of autumn-gold trees by the Elk River in Fernie, B.C.. We stopped for lunch on the way to an appointment with the surgeon who would remove the tumour from my abdomen. Fear almost won that day. I wanted to run in the opposite direction. I was afraid I would never see my favourite season again.
And now as summer becomes autumn, the trees along the path once again turn to gold. I am still here. My Lord still holds my hand and walks with me just as He promised.
I decided to paint my favourite cathedral – the forest. With the words “eternal light” still in my head I painted a prayer for that light to continue to shine in the scary shadowy places in my heart. I painted the celebration of another season of colour, and then I painted myself as a much-loved child holding the hand of the Lover of my soul. He leads me toward glory in the comfort of His friendship and humble majesty.
I can’t explain it, but there is something about an atmosphere of dedicated prayer and worship that makes painting faster and easier. Except for a few touch-ups this painting came together in one session.
I sat back and looked at it. “What are you saying today, Lord?” I asked.
This is the scripture passage that came up when I searched my Bible.
For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:17.18 NASB)
He is kind. He is forever kind. He promised to never leave.
The journey continues.
But let them all be glad, those who turn aside to hide themselves in you. May they keep shouting for joy forever! Overshadow them in your presence as they sing and rejoice. Then every lover of your name will burst forth with endless joy.
Psalm 5:11 TPT
i thank you God for this most amazing day
for the leaping greenly spirits of trees,
and for the blue dream of sky
and for everything which is natural
which is infinite
which is yes.
~e. e. cummings
It was warm enough to take my coffee out on the deck early this morning. I sat quietly and thanked the Lord for his goodness.
This is the first morning I’ve had a chance to sit in my own garden after a trip to the cancer center for a six month check-up.
Good news! No evidence of new tumours.
It’s a new day and I am deeply grateful.
This I recall to my mind,
Therefore I have hope.
The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
Mine is the sunlight! Mine is the morning
Born of the one light Eden saw play!
Praise with elation, praise every morning;
God’s recreation of the new day!
(from Morning Has Broken by Eleanor Farjeon)