If your praise challenge is turning out to be anything like mine, right about now, it’s on! Hell has released its fury, and all my resolve is being tested, indeed! So what’s a girl to do under such fierce and demanding circumstances? That’s right, pull back your hair and prepare to finish strong!
The method, however, does not quite match the madness. Quite unlike the fights we may have seen (or participated in) in the past, this one is not loud and proud. Instead, the victory we’re aiming for will be found in the quiet stillness of our hearts.
In the book of Isaiah, God speaks to His people, who had forgotten the value of waiting for and trusting in Him. They had ceased to listen for the truth, and because they were living in utter chaos, they wanted to hear only what they wanted to hear. They had begun to believe what the shadows of darkness said more than what the promises of God still held for them. And their worlds were crumbling because of it.
Into that chaotic mess, God spoke a profound Word: “…Only in returning to Me and resting in Me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence will be your strength.” (Isaiah 30:15)
Unfortunately, the people of that day would have none of it. They continued instead to run from the enemy, to live under the threat of chaos, and to be driven by the shadows of darkness.
God, however, left the invitation there, for anyone who would choose to accept it. It’s still open to us who read His Word today. You and I, if we so desire, have the opportunity to enter into that sacred place of stillness, that haven of quiet confidence – where fears and fightings, even words and songs cease, and we become aware of one thing: God’s majesty.
My music app hasn’t been working lately. I turn it on, hoping to fill the atmosphere around me with praise, but it keeps cutting out. Once or twice it was annoying, but after about the eighth time, I started to think it might be appointed. So I decided to ask God about it. Afterall, isn’t the point of a Praise Challenge to offer up constant praise??
I was surprised to realize that the motivation of my praise can sometimes pollute the place I am aiming to rest in. Often, I believe we praise from the place of fear, or even selfish motivations. We praise because life gets overwhelming and pain presses deep into the places we want to protect. Or we praise because we want more “peace,” a change in our circumstances. These are not wrong aims, but there is a higher aim to praise than this.
Real praise is pure. Real praise looks at God, breathes Him in, and is completely satisfied by the reminder that He is love, perfected. True praise finds real peace, resting confidence in merely sitting in the presence of such perfection. Even if nothing else changes. Real praise finds more fulfillment in the company of God than in what He is willing to do for us.
The broken stream of “worship” music was an invitation for me to enter the place of real praise. Rather than worship the worship, I was being invited to worship the One for Whom all worship is to be made. It seems a subtle difference, on the surface, but it is a world of difference in the depths of our hearts, which is where the Spirit of God is dwelling, and ever working to move us closer to the heart of God.
If you are pressed on every side, and tossed about by the winds of difficulty, the same invitation I received is open to you: just stop. Stop singing, stop talking, stop praying, stop striving, stop fighting for a victory. Let your soul, just for today, enter into the very presence of God, and let your spirit behold the One Who has already secured every victory you will ever need. Just be still, and there be reminded of how great God is, and of how much He loves you.
Those who can sit in confident silence together gain an intimacy that meaningless words cheapen and ultimately destroy. It is in this silent space of simply being together where real trust is cultivated. Accept God’s invitation today, and discover real peace, in the Prince of Peace.
“I thought faith would say, ‘I’ll take away the pain and discomfort,’ but what it ended up saying was, ‘I’ll sit with you in it.'” -Brene Brown