Daily D – Psalm 50:23

by | Apr 23, 2020 | Daily D | 0 comments

But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me. If you keep to my path, I will reveal to you the salvation of God. PSALM 50:23 (NLT)

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My regular haircut is now a month overdue. With enough styling gel, it doesn’t look that bad. I haven’t had this much hair since I was in college. Soon it will look like it did in high school. Hopefully, mercifully, by then I can go somewhere to get it trimmed a bit. 

The last month has been an interesting exercise, hasn’t it? It has interrupted our rhythms. It has refocused our energy and attention. What do you find yourself giving more energy to these days? What do you give more attention?

I ran across the same quote in different places over the last couple of days. The first time I thought, “That’s nice.” The second time I thought, “I better capture that.” This is a saying worth pondering. It comes to us from Frederick Buechner (beek-ner):

We learn to praise God not by paying compliments but by paying attention.

The psalms are full of praise and thanksgiving. Praise and thanksgiving are prominent throughout the Bible. People who know and experience God cannot help but praise him for who he is and thank him for what he does. 

A passage in a novel describes a man of another religion fingering his prayer beads and reciting the prayer snippet associated with each. At the same time, he was remembering how he became an assassin and pondered who he was going to kill next. That seems like a bit of a disconnect, doesn’t it?

Sometimes I feel the same kind of thing when I sing the same song without thinking or repeat the same prayer. I promise, I have never thought about killing anyone while singing or praying. I have, however, wondered what was for lunch. I have thought about the sporting event I was anticipating. I have thought, “I would have said that differently.”

While my mouth was saying one thing, my mind was considering something else. 

We learn to praise God not by paying compliments but by paying attention.

One of the things made possible over the last month is more attention to what God is saying. Rhythms and routines I had been cultivating for several years have reached new depths. I have given God more attention. The more attention I give him, the more thankful I am, the more I find myself praising him not by rote, but by immersion. This involves setting aside other people’s words and finding my own combinations of syllable and sound. 

Pick up a language learning guide. Simple phrases used repeatedly in other cultures are found that can be memorized quickly and used to exercise both mind and tongue. Some pride in accomplishment comes from perfectly executing wee bits of conversation. How much more satisfaction arises when we are able to combine nouns, verbs, articles, and descriptors in unique combinations that communicate with clarity.

How do we get to the place where we can communicate clearly in another language? We pay attention. We focus our attention. We listen carefully and observe attentively. 

We learn to praise God not by paying compliments but by paying attention.

In these days of enforced stillness and silence, pay attention to God. “Be still, and know that I am God!” (Ps. 46:10). Give God the sacrifice of your positive, focused attention. 

We recently delighted in observing our granddaughter laugh, dance, repeat Da-da, Da-da, Da-da, and push around one of her toys. I could watch her for hours. How could I not praise and thank God for her? What would be different in my life if I gave God the uninterrupted attention accorded my granddaughter via FaceTime? What if I had an evening time alone with God like I do in the morning? What if I stopped using other people’s words for my best thinking about him and started writing my own?

Giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors God. 

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I will give God the sacrifice of my positive, focused attention.

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Our Father, morning light and evensong will lead me into positive, focused attention of you, your nature, your character, and your presence. Moment by moment through the day, I will seek you, I will find you, I will know you, I will experience you. What begins as sacrifice transforms into joy. How have I missed this truth for so long? Amen. 

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The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Ge 15:6.