During my seminary days I worked for a furniture store. I once received permission from the owner to borrow the store truck to move some furniture from my in-laws’ home to ours. I hopped in the truck and headed down the street to their home. Since it had been a good day I was softly singing praises as I drove. Still singing I turned into and headed up their driveway – only to run into a low overhanging roof that stopped the truck dead and punctured a hole in the truck’s box. Not cool!
As I later reflected on the incident it occurred to me that the problem was not necessarily my singing praises – it was the location of me eyes while I was singing. The singing led me to be far too casual and therefore to lose the concentration I needed when driving. In fact, if I had looked up just once as I entered the new territory of the driveway, I would have been okay. But getting lost in praise led me to lose perspective.
Singing praises, therefore, can be a problem. Far too often we are more focused on the act of praising than we are on whom we’re praising. So, when singing praises, look up. Only when we look up do we see the focus of our praise and avoid catastrophes.
• We might be praising another person – not bad in itself – but shouldn’t our real praise be for the God who created that person and brought him or her into our lives? When singing praises, look up.
• We might be praising some beautiful scenery – but shouldn’t our real praise be for the God who created that scenery? When singing praises, look up.
• Sometimes we even end up praising ourselves – then it’s really true: When singing praises, look up.
• Or it’s possible we’re singing in church or elsewhere and are sincerely praising the Lord, so much so that we get lost in the act, emotions, and mechanics of praising – only to lose sight of the Lord we are working so hard to praise. So, when singing praises, look up.
Catch the spirit of the Psalm 103 (New Living Translation): “Let all that I am praise the LORD; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s! The LORD gives righteousness and justice to all who are treated unfairly…The LORD is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve. For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. The LORD is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him… But the love of the LORD remains forever with those who fear him. His salvation extends to the children’s children of those who are faithful to his covenant, of those who obey his commandments! … Let all that I am praise the LORD.” He does not say how to praise – the accent is on whom to praise. I have a hunch that the Psalmist, when he sang God’s praises, looked not down at his feet but up to the heavens. When singing praises, look up.
Come to think of it, there is one time when it’s all right to get lost in praise. Charles Wesley captured it:
“Finish then Thy new creation, Pure and spotless let us be; Let us see They great salvation Perfectly restored in Thee: Changed from glory into glory, Till in heav’n we take our place, Till we cast our crowns before Thee, Lost in wonder, love and praise!” ( 1)
Then we won’t need to look up – we’ll be looking at Him face to face! But until then, when singing praises, look up.”
(1) “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling”