In a time of communing with Jesus, I entered into a powerful experience. I found myself in the spirit strolling in a lush mountainous high place with Jesus. After walking for a bit, we came to the edge of a cliff. Jesus stood behind me and placed His hands on my shoulders. I anticipated that He was about to show me something…
THE SOUND RISING FROM THE RIVER
Far below I could see a great river. In the distance, I could see the point where the river abruptly ended. As I leaned forward for a closer look, I could see many rocks in the river making it turbulent like rapids. The closer to the end, the faster it ran and the louder the water thundered. Rocks, obstacles, and turbulence drastically increased in number as the river neared its ending point.
The Lord began to speak, “We are nearing the end of all things. Troubling times are ahead, yet the prayers of the saints and the words of prophecy are being poured out. The river will run swiftly now. Many obstacles will be in the way, and you will rush forward in the river of time toward the end. The waters will be turbulent and loud, but My people will joyfully go forth. Every obstacle will only cause My people to sing louder.”
Next, my attention was drawn to a sound rising up from the river. As I tuned my ears to listen closer, I realized that I was hearing singing. At once I understood that the people of God were in the river, and I was hearing their voices rising in praise. This was not only the river of time but symbolized those who were dwelling in the river of God’s Spirit.
At once my vision zoomed in closer to the river. I watched as the river water smashed into a large obstructing bolder. Simultaneously, I heard the crash of cymbals in praise as the spray surged into the air. Despite the crushing difficulty, the Jesus people in the river intensified their worship. The more arduous the path became, the louder their praise rose until like rushing water it reached a resonant roar.
Turning back to look in the face of my Lord, I was taken aback by the emotion in His face. His eyes were moist and shining. He was experiencing every pain, every hardship, and every heartache with His children. He knew that it took everything in them, every ounce they could muster, every fiber of their being to rejoice through the suffering. His heart beamed with pride as He received this priceless costly praise that was rising up.
THE PRACTICE OF PRAISE
As I have meditated on this encounter, I have been challenged in my own life to evaluate how I respond through life’s difficulties both small and great. At the beginning of March, we spent several days in the hospital because our oldest son needed another emergency brain surgery. Then there were days when I have struggled to make it through due to severe migraines. Just this past week we found out that our family is being sued by a neighbor for a large sum of money. Their daughter went into our backyard without our permission or knowledge and broke her wrist. Rejoicing in trials is a message that God is giving me the opportunity to live out in current time.
Interestingly though, I find that it is the small day-to-day troubles that can throw me off the most and cause me to lose my joy…. things like dog vomit on the carpet, the mountain of clothes in my laundry room, a missing important document or spilled oatmeal. In these moments, I often forget to respond with thanksgiving and praise. I am sobered. I am challenged to PRACTICE with intentionality a heart of gratitude and worship as I encounter the small difficulties of each day. Then, when the greater troubles come, my heart has been trained to praise.
I am reminded of the passage in Hebrews 13:15 that says, “…let us continually offer to God a SACRIFICE of praise…” Hearing the voices rising from the river despite the crushing obstacles gave me a new perspective on this verse and the meaning of sacrificial praise.
Another phrase I’ve continued hearing in the spirit is, “Even though____and YET I will praise Him.” This comes from Habakkuk 3:17-19 where the prophet lists one awful event occurring after another. A day of disaster was described. An economic collapse was detailed where all of the food sources dry up and the animals die. It is in this context that the author says EVEN THOUGH all of these hardships take place, “I will rejoice in the Lord and take joy in the God of my salvation”. In the Amplified version is says, “I will CHOOSE to rejoice in the Lord.” This costly kind of praise comes through an intentional act of our will. Literally the word “rejoice” in the Strong’s Concordance means to “jump for joy” and “spin around”. We are invited by our Father to involve our WHOLE BODY in releasing the sound of JOY during life’s most trying times.
Let’s take a moment to search our hearts. What situation is God asking you to fill in the blank with? Even though……….., yet I will praise Him.
The highest praise is that which costs you the most. Oh that our hearts will be practiced and ready to cheerfully respond with praise when the way becomes filled with boulders and our worship becomes a sacrifice.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials…”-James 1:2a
Blessings on the Journey,