Riding waves and climbing trees

I took this picture near Santa Cruz in April.

I took this picture near Santa Cruz in April.

“We ought not leap in prayer and limp in praise.”

This quote from Charles Spurgeon paints a vivid picture for me. Can’t you feel the vast difference between the two descriptions of movement? Steps where your feet barely touch the ground, your arms swing high, neck craned upward to make sure you’re heard, versus dragging your feet slowly, moaning and groaning while staring at the ground.

The quote came to mind earlier this year as I traveled to both U.S. coasts and found myself noticing the lack of limping in nature.  

Do the waves reluctantly make their way ashore while wishing they would never crest? Definitely not. In February, I was mesmerized by how the waves off the Florida coast rolled in beautiful rhythm and seemed to take joy in crashing ashore. It’s almost as though they happily trip over one another in anticipation. Each one breaks and gives energy to the next. It’s a wonderfully collective chorus of praise.

Do the impressive Redwood trees cower and slump? After visiting Northern California in April, I can confirm they would dare not do such a thing. They stand tall and confident like they’re stretching for the sun. Their branches spread wide and overlap as they seem to pat each other on the back and plead with each other to reach higher.

It was like a gratitude adrenaline rush to see the water and trees and how they speak of, and to, the Creator. I found myself wanting to jump in the ocean despite the cold temperatures - toss me a wet suit already! I had the strong urge to climb a Redwood despite the fact that I couldn’t fit my arms around half of one - strap me in whatever they strap you in to climb those beautiful, bigger-than-life trees!

To leap or to limp

On days like the ones in my travels, I think I follow somewhat in nature’s footsteps as praise and gratitude readily roll out of my heart and off my tongue. Other days it crosses my lips a little more reluctantly, or gets stuck altogether in my throat and never registers a sound wave.

If I regularly seem to have enough energy to ‘leap’ and devote most of my focus and effort to asking for what I want and think I need, and then find myself depleted to a ‘limp’ when it comes to praising, I know I’m headed for trouble.

Why is that? I think it’s because saying thank you and marveling at who God is and what he’s done reminds me that I am, in fact, talking to a living being. He is a kind and caring God who hears, moves and responds, not a vending machine, concierge or genie. There is no relationship in those transactional type of interactions. I’m talking with the God of the universe who knows me and wants me to know Him.

Sometimes we need a running start

It’s been a bit of a challenge this past month not to drag my feet and glance down when it comes to praise. Some unexpected health challenges arrived on my doorstep, and I’d like to label them return to sender and be done with them. Even though I’ve seen God show up in these unsettling circumstances, being grateful and praising can just be harder when facing frustrations. It may require a running start, but it’s worth the effort.

One of the things I’m praising God about is how he scheduled a doctor appointment for me, literally. When I called to make an appointment, at first they told me it would be a two month wait. I wasn’t concerned about the time frame and was going to take whatever was available. While talking to the receptionist, she interrupted me and said they just received a cancellation for the next day at 2 p.m. In the days and test results that followed, it was clear the sudden opening in the schedule was the Lord taking care of me. How is that for evidence that God can handle the details?

I would say I’m at a steadily increasing praise leap right now as I continue to focus on God’s love and faithfulness. And this effort has in no way diminished my leaping in asking for full resolution. In my mind, Spurgeon’s quote is not a reprimand for bringing persistent, spirited requests to God; it’s a call to apply just as much heart, soul and time to thanks and praise. It’s a check and balance on my motivations and view of our Heavenly Father when it comes to prayer and praise. The admonition doesn’t dwindle my asking, it stokes my praising.

So, I’m leaping pretty high in my requests right now, and by God’s grace, will leap just as high with thanks and praise. I aim to ride some legit barrel waves and swing my way through Redwood branches reaching higher and higher for the Son.

What about you?

Are you leaping or limping in praise right now? What do you think about Spurgeon’s quote?

Up next: Next week, I’m excited to share that something I wrote is being posted on a friend’s blog. I’m looking forward to introducing you to her and her site. She is a joy and has so many helpful things to say.

Catch up: If you’re new here, check out some of the previous blogs. We talk about verbal processing, finding comfort in God, and His incredible love, along with several lighter attempts at humor.