Praise, Worship...These are words that are used quite commonly these days. They even used a "worship" song on American Idol last season, praise and worship are pretty popular these days.
But I think that God is trying to help us to see it on a more realistic level, It's in the messy places that He wants us to realize what true worship means. When we don't feel like worshiping Him, when life is hard and unpleasant, He wants us to worship Him.
Alan Kraft has a wonderful chapter in his book, "Good News for Those Trying Harder" all about the significance of a gaze as opposed to seeing. We need to see Jesus for who He truly is and not just what we know about Him, as Alan states it; "Seeing is one thing; gazing is another. Seeing can be fun, informative, helpful-but gazing will change your life."
Mr Kraft goes on to talk about Peter and how dramatically he learned the lesson between gazing and seeing, referencing his encounter with Jesus multiplying the fish in (Luke 5:8, 10-11)
Peter had witnessed the miraculous from Jesus before but this time Jesus is cast in a different light for him; "Peter sees his own sinfulness in light of Christ's holiness and then experiences Jesus' grace and love extended toward him in his brokenness." The result was Peter leaving everything he ever knew to follow this one who knew him better than he knew himself.
Peter wasn't just well acquainted with a list of facts, or the latest books that had been written on Jesus. He knew Him for who he was, he was gazing upon Him. Peter began to see Jesus with the eyes of his heart, the very place that we need to be. Not knowing facts about Jesus or admiring Him from afar but having a close intimate relationship with the Savior.
The resource that God has provided for us to grow in our intimacy with Him is praise. It is expressed and it is rooted in the truth of who God is and what He has revealed about Himself in His word. I like the way Alan puts it; " Our expression of praise is rooted in the truth about who God is. This is very important to understand. It is not simply what I feel about God at the current moment." As we all know our emotions can be extremely deceiving so we will not always feel like giving praise to God, again Alan states it very nicely; "It is rooted in truth, regardless of how I feel or what circumstance I find myself in. .."Praise opens a door for us to more powerfully experience Christ."
Our circumstances may not change, the doctor's report may not change, the wheels may still fall off of the wagon but one thing remains, in the midst of all of the messy places that we find ourselves in, we still have the amazing gift of praise. And what's even more amazing is, the circumstances may not change but in the midst of them, we will! and we'll see Christ a little clearer than we did before.
Open the eyes of our hearts Lord that we might not just look upon you and know facts about you but that we would gaze upon you and let us truly know you and praise you !