No doubt you’ve read about my adventures in Zumba (if not, simply scroll down to the previous post), and you might be wondering one week later: “Did Jerry return to attend a SECOND Zumba class?” The short answer is: “No. He did not.” In case the reason for that isn’t blatantly obvious, let me clarify something I merely eluded to in that post about my Zumba class. I mentioned that I was expecting it to be a half hour long class, but it turned out to be an hour. What I didn’t mention is that because it was an hour long class, it ended at 10:45 a.m. What you also may not know is that I have a standing lunch date with my youngest son every Friday in his school cafeteria. What time does that start? Oh, around 11 a.m. Believe it or not, last Friday I bolted out of my Zumba class, into the locker room for a quick shower, and got over to the school cafeteria in time for lunch with the greatest 7 year old I know. I even impressed myself on that one.
So, today being Friday and even as I’m typing this it’s 9:44 a.m., Zumba starts in 1 minute. I’m not going because I decided that I would have a different type of workout today. Today, in order to get my cardio in, I would run a fitness trail through the woods at a nearby park.
As I arrived, there were several other cars already in the parking lot at the edge of the woods. I got out of my car and started walking toward the trail’s entrance some 50 feet away. Parked just near the entrance to the trail was a car that had the windows down and some fairly loud music coming from it. I noticed that a woman was sitting in the front seat of the car and as I got closer I saw that she had her right hand raised heavenward. The music was upbeat, energetic worship music and this woman was having her own personal worship service in her car, obviously not caring what anyone else saw or thought of her. I thought to myself, “That’s awesome.”
As I did my pre-run stretching of my calves, thighs and “hammys”, I listened to that music coming from that car and glanced over at that woman enthralled by the worship of her King. Windows down, hands up, heart overflowing. Yep, I’ll say it again: “That’s awesome.”
Psalm 22:3 tells us that “God inhabits the praises of His people.” But praise isn’t always an easy task is it? Just like the countless hills, valleys, and curves in the fitness trail I ran this morning–so life has its endless supply of ups and downs and downs and outs. And in those moments where we struggle to understand what God is doing, or we struggle to understand why He would allow such a thing to happen to us or to that person we love, we also can struggle to praise Him.
But praise is as much a discipline that precedes His blessing as it is a result that proceeds from a blessed life. If we are holding out on praising Him waiting to see if He comes through, then we have not read about or understood the Biblical examples of Abraham, Isaac, Noah, Moses, David, Samuel, or Esther to name a few. We have not understood the verse in Psalm 22:3 and its clear instruction to literally create a life of praise that God can be enthroned upon. If praise is just a pat on God’s back for a job well done, I fear we are not doing our jobs well at all.
Watching, listening to, and being encouraged by that woman in her car this morning also served as a reminder to me. Just as it was an act of my will to drive myself to that park and run myself through that course in those woods for the purpose of my physical health, so it must be an act of my will to praise God (regardless of how I’m feeling) for my spiritual health.