Practice, Practice

Do know the old joke about how to get to Carnegie Hall?

Question: “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” Answer: “Practice, practice, practice.” The poor guy was looking for directions and he got a lecture.

But this is good advice for those who want to master an artistic, athletic, or academic performance of any kind. Good math requires practice. Good piano playing requires practice. Good ballet requires practice. My inability to do any of those three things is a result of my not wanting to practice!

Have you ever considered that praising God also requires practice? David was surely in the habit of praising God continually. It was a lifestyle for him and when he found himself in a place where his life and his sanity were in jeopardy, his praise practice helped him out:

Psalm 71 (Common English Bible)

I’ve taken refuge in you, Lord.
 Don’t let me ever be put to shame!
Deliver me and rescue me by your righteousness!
   Bend your ear toward me and save me!
Be my rock of refuge
   where I can always escape.
You commanded that my life be saved
  because you are my rock and my fortress.

The lovely phrase, “Bend your ear toward me” is a beautiful portrayal of our relationship with God. God indeed inclines his ear toward us every time we cry out to him. Like a mother bird feeding her squawking babies, God is ready to supply the need when we ask. He is the rock of refuge where we can always escape.

My God, rescue me from the power of the wicked;
    rescue me from the grip of the wrongdoer and the oppressor
 because you are my hope, Lord.
    You, Lord, are the one I’ve trusted since childhood.

Here we see why it is important to bring our children to church. David writes that he has trusted God since childhood and has depended on him from birth. How will our children have this type of relationship with God if we don’t make the effort to get them to Sunday school and worship every week?

I’ve depended on you from birth—
    you cut the cord when I came from my mother’s womb.
    My praise is always about you.
I’ve become an example to many people
    because you are my strong refuge.

Now comes the “practice, practice, practice” part:
My mouth is filled with your praise,
    glorifying you all day long.
Don’t cast me off in old age.
    Don’t abandon me when my strength is used up!

Is your mouth filled with God’s praise, or do you spend time gossiping, cutting others down, or complaining?

10 Yes, my enemies have been talking about me;
    those who stalk me plot together:
11 “God has abandoned him!
    Pursue him!
    Grab him because no one will deliver him!”
12 Don’t be far from me, God!
    My God, hurry to help me!
13 Let my accusers be put to shame,
    completely finished off!
    Let those who seek my downfall
    be dressed in insults and disgrace!

David reminds us that we can also build a relationship with God by “repeating God’s righteous acts and saving deeds all day long.”

14 But me? I will hope. Always.
    I will add to all your praise.
15 My mouth will repeat your righteous acts
    and your saving deeds all day long.
    I don’t even know how many of those there are!
16 I will dwell on your mighty acts, my Lord.
    Lord, I will help others remember nothing but your righteous deeds
.

What will come out of your mouth today? Try practicing praise for a change. My guess is that your day will be filled with blessings if you do.

Practice Praise by Michelle Robertson

Escape

New Year’s Eve brought something unexpected to my little family this year: fireworks. Very close fireworks, which possibly came from the back yard adjoining the little townhouse we were staying in. It felt in some moments that the fireworks were in the room with us. That is annoying when your idea of welcoming in the new year is to be in bed by ten, and fall asleep hoping you will remember to start dating things with 2022 the next day. But for my dog, fireworks are terrifying.

Georgia is not bothered by storms, thunder, Nor ’easters, etc, but when that high whine of something about to explode happens, she takes her 100lb. body and tries to find the smallest place of safety in the house. We have spent many a July 4th huddled with her in the kneehole of the built-in desk of our guest room. On New Year’s Eve, my husband sat with her on the laundry room floor until the jubilation was finally over.

Where do you go to escape? When the cacophony of stress threatens to deafen you, when your eyes have seen more tragedy than joy, when your heart breaks with the absence of your one true love, where do you flee?

I hope you flee to God. I pray that you know that in any circumstance, God is a sound-proof rock cave that can withstand any type of assault … whether it be physical, emotional, relational, or spiritual.

Listen to how the psalmist put it:

Psalm 71 (Common English Bible)

I’ve taken refuge in you, Lord.
    Don’t let me ever be put to shame!
Deliver me and rescue me by your righteousness!
    Bend your ear toward me and save me!
Be my rock of refuge
    where I can always escape.
You commanded that my life be saved
    because you are my rock and my fortress.

My God, rescue me from the power of the wicked;
    rescue me from the grip of the wrongdoer and the oppressor
    because you are my hope, Lord.
    You, Lord, are the one I’ve trusted since childhood.
I’ve depended on you from birth—
    you cut the cord when I came from my mother’s womb.
    My praise is always about you.

I don’t know what is about to explode in your life right now, but I do know where you can go for shelter. God’s power is available to deliver you and save you from all manner of evil, slander, wickedness, oppression, and harm. And explosions.

Flee to the Rock, and you will find hope.

Check out my friend Shannon’s thought-provoking post, and sorry about the song that will get stuck in your head all day!

Sheltered by Michelle Robertson