"to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. " Isaiah 61:3 (NIV)
I've had a revelation: PRAISE IS A DISCIPLINE
Okay maybe you knew that already but I'm sure that if someone would ask me to list the disciplines, I would mention things like fasting, confession, bible study and prayer. Praise certainly wouldn't be the first discipline that I would mention! Yet I'm convinced that it is something we have to choose to practice everyday. It's not an end to itself but a way to deepen our relationship with Christ (just like any of the discipline are). They provide a framework for us to meet with the Lord!
It feels like ever since I've gotten to Peru, that I've been assaulted with the negative. The state of the people of Peru, the condition of the Mennonite church, the troubles of the missionaries, the busyness that everyone gets caught in and the troubles in relationships. I could very easily choose to despair at that news. I could join in with the negative noise around me very easily. I guess I knew that everything was not perfect in Cusco (is it anywhere?) but perhaps I didn't expect how much I would be assaulted with it. I think this is definitely a part of spiritual warfare. The enemy wants us to feel defeated and he wants us to to look around at our circumstance and despair. He wants us to focus on the negative (not in order to pray for change but to get caught in it).
Praise is a choice that I must make everyday here. I must choose to not look at the darkness but to ask for eyes to see the Lord's light. I must stand, I must shout victory and I must PRAISE! I'm sure that there will be days that will feel darker than others but the Lord is with me and I choose to shout the happy news! The local missionary women from Cusco (from Wycliffe, EMM, the Presbyterian and other independent missionaries) are doing a study called "Fight Like a Girl!" In the book, the author quotes Psalm 68 and says that it's a host of women shouting happy news about God's victory. I love what this verse says:
"The Lord gives the word, and a host of women bring the good news. Enemy kings and their armies flee,
while the women of Israel divide the plunder." Psm 68:11-12 (NLT)
The Lord gives the word and then the women proclaim the victory! Wow! I want to hear the word of the Lord and be a part of that host which proclaims good news. Then I know that the enemy will FLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!
Yes, so everyday I make a choice about what I will put on. Will I put on a cloak of despair or will I put on a beautiful skirt of praise? Will I place on my head a hat of negativity or will I put on the shirt called "all things are possible"? I pray that everyday I will practice praise and put on God's perspective.