Everybody’s looking for a quick fix these days and self-help books abound: three, four and five easy steps to success in your favorite area of deficiency. The more ‘serious’ approaches may favor seven to twelve steps. So I chuckled as I was reading Psalm 50 one day and came across a little five step plan tucked away in verses 14-15:
1) Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God;
2) Keep the vows you’ve made to the Most High; then
3) Call on Him when you’re in trouble; and
4) He will rescue you; and
5) You will give Him glory (or honor Him, in one translation).
Huh! We get so caught up in asking God to show us the glory and make our paths smooth, that we fail to recognize or count on His faithfulness. I think we have it all backwards and our definition of success is skewed. If we’re honest, our list might read more like this:
1) Bless me so I can have things to be thankful for;
2) Accept whatever I decide to do for You and be glorified in it;
3) Let me live trouble-free so others will see how good you are;
4) I promise to pity and pray for all the other poor souls who struggle; and
5) If and when You do all of the above, I may start keeping my vows to You (if it’s not too much trouble).
After several faith-building formative years, signs of life began to sprout from the dormant seeds of unfulfilled desires and unanswered prayers. I had just returned from my first trip to Nashville and had recently signed a contract with Creative Soul. Driving home from work one night, rejoicing over how quickly things had changed, I thanked the Lord for the apparent ease with which they developed. But from the moment the thank you left my lips I had a sinking feeling that prompted me to ask out loud, “it’s about to get more difficult, isn’t it?” There was no audible response but I immediately sensed the Lord’s presence and I could almost see Him nodding His head affirmatively, His reassuring hand on my shoulder.
The very next morning, my husband was unable to get out of bed. His degenerative disk disease had progressed to the point the doctor had warned us about and we knew that he was going to require extensive surgery. The situation was grim and a variety of worst case scenarios erupted in my mind. It was then I remembered the conversation in my car the night before. And I wasn’t afraid, because I knew God was going to take care of my husband and me, and everything He intended for us to do. In fact, He had the entire situation under control, start to finish. Several weeks later, after a successful surgery and sufficient time to recover, my husband was finally able to make the trip to Nashville with me for vocal week.
It started there, this quietness in my soul that was undisturbed by trouble and unaffected by achievement. The Holy Spirit began to develop in me a pattern of gratitude: thanking God for every gift, every trial, every delay, every person who had touched my life and everything else that had worked together for my good to bring me to this place. I was determined to fulfill my vow to write and sing for Him. I found out why the Psalmist didn’t say “if” you’re in trouble but “when” you’re in trouble, for there was plenty of that along the way but when it arrived, I cried out to Him and He rescued me every single time. He just wanted my sacrifice of praise that created a willingness to demonstrate my faith in Him by taking one more step in the right direction, and then another, and another one after that. And in all of this, I give Him the glory. I give Him all the glory!