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Space to Praise

Yesterday I started running. (Again.) The last time I ran was probably in June, before a summer of crummy sicknesses knocked me out and drained me of resolve. And also laziness, and hating it. But let’s be gracious to me, a sinner, and say it was the sicknesses. In the morning I skyped with two of my sisters. Our skypes are legendary bouts of face-making and laughter and all-too-accurate insults seasoned with love. we shared and cried and talked the hard things and the hilarious, and prayed together before signing off. One of the things they prayed for me was for space to praise in.

Sounds…unnecessary? or obvious. That’s why we go to church, right? That’s why we play music, full-blast when home alone or in crowds through earbuds. That’s why we read devotionals or have Bible studies. That’s why we read our daily morning Scripture and daily evening Scripture and pray our before-we-go-to-work prayers. But no. It’s the most necessary prayer I’ve heard in a while.

The truth is this: It’s hard to praise when you lead worship every Sunday. It’s hard to praise when your mind is occupied elsewhere. It’s hard to praise when you are in charge. It’s hard to praise when your focus is anywhere else but how glorious Jesus is. At home, at work, at church, in transit. Where is that space made? Where are we free for it?

I believe firmly in finding opportune moments in the small things, the little bits of life that aren’t meant to be documented or even commented on, but which are communications of joy or grace or conviction or peace or humility. Yet there should be more than small bits of time, because praise– as much as it is found in the habits of the routine– is deliberate. It’s chosen. But it’s also a miracle.

I thought about her words all day, and that evening, as I pounded away at my self-imposed regimen, I found it. Space to praise, on a little-trafficked country road in Korea. Space to praise, sweaty, sore, out of breath and out of practice with this: running and seeking the deliberate glorification of God. Panting hallelujahs between my steps. Sunset on high clouds, songs of praise on my breathless lips. And it was life.

Today I ran again, and it was harder, like the second day always is, but the sense of accomplishment bore me up. Then before lunch I got horribly obnoxious news about money (paying bills in a second language is sometimes hard. Who knew?) and freaked out. Just. Legit. As in buried my face in (I think it was) a towel and howled at the injustice of it. I DID THE THING I was supposed to do and have been doing for months and now the thing is wrong? And I have to deal with it? WHY IS THIS HAPPENING. I howled. Ask Nate. He’ll tell you. (poor boy.)

After a bit things calmed down, what with helpful friends and longsuffering husband and, you know, lunch. But now I’m facing down an afternoon full of things-to-be-done, with eyes still slightly sore from The Meltdown and legs still crazy sore from The Exercise, and both reminds me– where is the space to praise today? Where is the deliberate choice to seek and glorify my Savior without distraction? It’s here. It’s now, as I write this. Whispering hallelujahs between keystrokes. Street sounds (including saxophone records. someone in this Korean country suburb is playing saxophone records) echoing though the windows and work to be done, here, now. Space to praise in my heart, if not in my schedule.

Thank God that He comes for us. Right? I can’t be in a cathedral right now, and I can’t repeat yesterday’s sidewalk miracle. My apartment gets zero natural light right now/ever and there’s no cloudscape or sea view to get lost in. I have a glowing laptop screen and a bed to make and laundry to do and syllabi to finalize and emails to send and and and and. I have a thirst to praise God. And that is how the space comes, not through assuming it will show up uninvited, but through taking a beat and asking for it.