Praise, For All The Wrong Reasons 12


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Hosanna (Save Us Now)

But Jesus answered, 

“I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!”

(Luke 19:37-40)

 An unwelcome thought invaded my quietude on Sunday as I listened to the sermon: You know those early disciples—the ones who shouted praise and swung palm branches to hail Jesus as their King? Those same disciples who five days later clamored for His crucifixion?

Yeah. Those disciples could have been me.

Six hundred years with no ruler to call their own. Centuries of persecution, poverty, misery, and derision. Waiting, waiting, waiting for their Champion.

One year a candidate appears on the scene. They watch for awhile. They listen. They hold their breath. They dare to hope—a little.  And, finally, as truth slowly settles in, they let down their guard. Emotions burst, joy tumbles out, and the streets clog with cloaks and kicked-up dust.

He is here! He is saving us now! No more careful guarding of our emotions! It’s party time, and no one is going to stop us! 

Except that some try.

“Jesus,” they cry, “Make these out-of-control, grossly misguided people KNOCK IT OFF!”

Telling Jesus what to do. Never a good idea.

“I tell YOU, if these become quiet, the stones will cry out!”

I thought about this on Sunday. I mean, it’s one thing for trees to clap their hands, Leviathan to churn seas into a cauldron, and stars to trumpet the majesty of our God. But stones?

Well, yes, stones. Because God will use anything in all of creation to bring Himself glory, even leaden lumps of granite.

But these people, in this moment, are His instruments of choice. They do not become quiet. Resistance fuels elation as voices rise to fever pitch. These worshipers get it exactly right.

And yet … five days later, this would-be Savior of the moment finds Himself captured, chastened, and crushed. This is no King! Hope’s joy recedes; hell’s fury runs riot.

These worshipers, who five days earlier nailed the art of worship, now nail the object of their worship to a cross. He did not save us now!

Oh, but friends, He is saving us now! If there was ever an occasion to worship, it is now, as this God-Man chooses to remain on the cross, forsaken by His Father, making a way not only for the rabble at His feet but for the rest of us for all eternity.

Sunday morning, I saw myself in these crowds, and I was ashamed. How often do I worship my King for what I think He is doing and, when He shows me an altogether different plan, my praise peters out?

  • A few months of good health, and I thank Him profusely; my third nasty cold in just as many months, and I whine.
  • My book is awarded, and my faith skyrockets; book sales languish, and my faith subsides.
  • Doors crack open, and my heart pounds with anticipation; doors creak shut, and my heart pounds with apprehension.

Do I ever stop to think that when this King of my life fails to do what I think He’s doing, it’s because He’s setting His face like flint to accomplish what’s best for me? Or that every hope I have for myself and for my loved ones pales in comparison to the hopes He has for us?

Sunday morning made me stop and think. I’m thinking still.

This Easter, like those crowds on Palm Sunday, I want my praise to be exactly right. But unlike those crowds—Oh Lord, please help me—may it be for exactly the right reason.

I don’t want any stones taking my place!

Amen, Amen
I’m alive, I’m alive
Because He lives
Amen, Amen
Let my song join the one that never ends …

Because He lives
I can face tomorrow
Because He lives
Every fear is gone

I know He holds my life, my future in His hands

(Matt Maher, with shout-out to Bill and Gloria Gaither)

Lifting my voice next to yours,

Jeanelle


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12 thoughts on “Praise, For All The Wrong Reasons

  • Debbie Dina

    Thank you for this reminder. So often we forget to praise God for the low times too. We have recently had a couple of years of just plain emotional turmoil in the form of death, sickness and evil attacks in our family leaving all of us saying maybe next year will be better….which doesn’t happen. However, today I can thank God for all that we went through these past few years because it has prepared us for today. Mick and I just purchased a home in WI and Mick lost his job 2 weeks later. I am also not working. This could be considered a bad situation, but we praise Him every day for being in control. We can’t wait to see what He has planned for us. We just need to be faithful and praise Him for everything…good and bad.

    • Jeanelle Reider Post author

      Oh my goodness, Debbie, I’m so sorry! It is astounding—and God’s grace, pure and simple—that you are able to be faithful to your God and praise Him for everything. One of Greg’s favorite verses is, “Lord we don’t know what to do but our eyes are on You.” I will pray for you and Mick, not only for your job situation but also for the grace to continue trusting Him. Much love to you and your family.

    • Jeanelle Reider Post author

      Well, I know how I myself think and live, and it’s most definitely not always pretty! God’s new-every-morning mercies are what keep me going. Praising God, along with you, Cleo, for the mercy of the Cross.

  • B.D.Riehl

    Yes! Yes! Yes! So beautifully, wonderfully, humbly put, my dear friend. Thank you for showing us your up and down moments to make this more clear. I cannot look down upon the followers who turned on Jesus–would I not have? I hope, of course, that I would have stayed true in that time. But does my current life and reaction to disappointment reflect that? I’m afraid not. If I do not choose to trust Him in all things now–when truly my life is rather cushy–how can I say that in that moment, under the heavy yoke of Rome and the religious leaders of that time that I wouldn’t have been discouraged and angry that my idea of relief was not to come?
    Such hard, but exceedingly important truths to remember and ponder. Thank you for this post and for your naked heart.

    • Jeanelle Reider Post author

      My friend, I sincerely hope that neither you nor I would have turned on Jesus as those crowds did. But, as you point out, if in our comparatively “cushy” life situations we struggle to respond well, how can we know? What we do know—and what you live and write so well, with your own humble, naked heart—is that His grace carries us where we cannot will ourselves to go. Thanks for pondering with me. Looking forward to worshiping with you on Sunday!

  • Angela Sinsel

    Thank you for sharing!! The ups and downs with God! ! Sometimes I wonder when will we learn.He always has been faithful and that is never going to stop!! May we Praise him for being so patient and loving!! Shout to the Lord and Sing His Praises!