Over the weekend, the subject of praise and thanks kept coming up. It brought back memories of a time when I didn’t even know how to be in prayer and give any kind of sacrifice of praise and thanks to my King. I would get so down about it. I would get down on my knees and tell the Lord, “Abba Father, you are the creator of all things. How could I not have any more to say to you?” Honestly, when I would hear how eloquent others were with their sacrifice of praise and thanks to Him, I would just dread saying anything next. A little over a year and a half later, the study In the Garden was chosen for us to go over again at Thistlebend. I was excited because I was in a different place in my life, and maybe something that hadn’t stood out before would now. But I was also so anxious about having to be in a small group again where I would have to show how weak I was in the area of giving Him praise and thanks. (Even as I type this out, it is funny to read how much I cared what others thought of me when my focus should have solely been on my Savior.)
Something happened around the same time that our In the Garden study was announced. We were encouraged to read The Holiness of God by R. C. Sproul. Reading this book prior to the study is when it clicked for me! God is living, holy, and just; this same God loves me despite all of my sin. I believe my praise and thanks to God suffered greatly because I didn’t truly understand what I deserved as a sinner. It is sometimes thought of as too “harsh” to think of ourselves as deserving wrath from the Creator of all things, but it is true. I am so guilty of thinking and saying, “Am I so bad?” or, “Come on, I didn’t do anything that wrong to be punished by God.” It wasn’t until reading that book that the Holy Spirit gently pulled back my blinders and I understood what was so sweet about grace and mercy. I could finally open my mouth and say, “Thank you, thank you, Father, for not leaving me where I was,” and praising Him for His faithfulness. All the dots started to connect for me.
I remember the first night I ever went to a Thistlebend study two years ago. We were doing the study Jesus, I Need You. I remember saying aloud to the group, “I think it would be really amazing to be in love with Him. I want to know what that feels like. I want to be one of those people who say, ‘I am just so in awe of Him.’ I just want to feel that.” It took a while for me to get to that point because I didn’t understand the weight of my sins.
I praise and thank Him so differently now. When I look back on these times I see that I couldn’t rejoice in Him or rejoice in fully being saved because I could say with my mouth, “Yes, He saved me. Thank you for that,” but my heart and mind didn’t understand what this really meant. Now, when I read Scripture passages like Colossians 1:12-16, I feel compelled to be on my face before Him, because He delivered me. He could have let me perish in the state I was in, but He saw fit to pull me from the darkness. This is why my praise and thanks sound different now, this is why I am changed. It was nothing I did, it was only because He loved me first. He died so that I may live, and it is an honor to live for Him.
…giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things were created through him and for him. (Col. 1:12-16)
All for His Glory