Saturday, January 11, 2014

Praise

In mid-December, before the arrival of children and all the noise and fun and food and family and time of celebration, I sat early mornings in my chair by the window and read Reflections on the Psalms by C.S. Lewis.  Why had I not read this book before?  It had sat on my husband's bookshelf for a very long time, an old, slightly tattered copy.  I was perusing the shelves one day and the small volume captured my attention.

And this - in the whole of this valuable little volume - is what grabbed me most of all:
"...the most obvious fact about praise - whether of God or anything - strangely escaped me.  I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honour.  I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise unless (sometimes even if) shyness of the fear of boring others is deliberately brought in to check it.  The world rings with praise - lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favourite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favourite game - praise of weather, wines, dishes, actors, motors, horses, colleges, countries, historical personages, children, flowers, mountains, rare stamps, rare beetles, even sometimes politicians or scholars.  I had not noticed how the humblest, and at the same time most balanced and capacious, minds, praised most, while the cranks, misfits and malcontents praised least.  The good critics found something to praise in many imperfect works; the bad ones continually narrowed the list of books we might be allowed to read.  The healthy and unaffected man, even if luxuriously brought up and widely experienced in good cookery, could praise a very modest meal; the dyspeptic and the snob found fault with all.  Except where intolerably adverse circumstances interfere, praise almost seems to be inner health made audible."
and this:
"He is that object to admire which ... is simply to be awake, to have entered the real world; not to appreciate which is to have lost the greatest experience, and in the end to have lost all.  The incomplete and crippled lives of those who are tone deaf, have never been in love, never known true friendship, never cared for a good book, never enjoyed the feel of the  morning air on their cheeks, never (I am one of those [says Lewis, not me]) enjoyed football, are faint images of it."

and finally this:
"I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation."
These ideas are not new.  Many Christian writers and thinkers have expounded on delight in God and the importance of fully glorifying by fulling enjoying Him.  I've read Piper and others.  I've waded in this stream.   This year, Lord willing and Christ enabling, I will dive and splash and swim.

I grew up in a church that sang the doxology every Sunday service.  It's not just a good song to sing as the ushers bring the offering plates down the aisle.  It's an anthem for every day.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow,

and in so doing, enjoy Him and the blessings more fully

Praise Him all creatures here below, 
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host,

and in so doing join a great community of creatures 
and heavenly beings sounding forth His praise

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost

and in so doing, come to love and know this triune God more deeply.

That's my word, friends.  Praise. That's my resolution for 2014.




4 comments:

Kathie said...

A wonderful choice Beth! I have the same book on my husband's shelf :) and I'm going to read it with you. xo

tonia said...

Love your choice. Prayer and Praise. We're a good pair this year. :)

I have read that before and I have it on the shelf. I'll dig it out too!

xoxox

(checking on that baby too....)

Heidi said...

Lovely. Now I want to read that book.

Laurel Christensen said...

I love the passages from C.S. Lewis that you quoted, especially this sentence.
"I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation."

Your writing, Beth, is very lovely.