With All My Heart

I will praise you, LORD my GOD, witl ALL my heart! - Psalm 86:12

With All My Heart

I grew up in Texas – so I know football. Even though I wouldn’t necessarily describe myself as an avid fan, I have many treasured memories of watching the Dallas Cowboys with my dad, and thanks to him, I can at least say I understand the game.

My sports education continued when I was introduced to baseball while dating Lee – specifically St. Louis Cardinals baseball. Although it took awhile for me to understand how the game was anything but boring, I’ve actually become a fan.

I’ll never forget the 2011 World Series when the St Louis Cardinals were vying for the championship against the Texas Rangers. (Before I go on – I just want to apologize to all the Texas Rangers fans out there who would rather not remember this event.)

Game 6 was a nail-biter: three times the Rangers had been within one strike of walking away with their first ever World Series title. But then David Freese surprised everyone (including himself- I’m sure) with a walk-off home run in the 11th inning to force a deciding 7th game. Even though the Cardinals ending up winning the championship in what many would call the most exciting series in major league baseball history, I thought game 6 was, by far, the highlight.

Just looking at these pictures reminds me of the celebration that took place in my own house as Freese (#23) rounded the bases. Lee and I, unable to contain ourselves were jumping up and down and pumping our fists. We couldn’t stop smiling and cheering as we watched the Cardinals players and fans continue their wild and unrestrained celebration.

We probably would have high-fived each other too, but as hard as it is to admit, we learned long ago that my eye – hand coordination is so bad I usually can’t manage to connect with someone else’s hand when we’re jumping up and down, so any high-five attempts becomes anti-climactic with a slight hint of pathetic.

Our response that day wasn’t contrived or forced or uncomfortable in any way, it was a natural celebratory response to a hard-fought victory.

I was reminded of this celebration a few days ago when I was spending time with the Lord. I noticed that song “10,000 Reasons” by Matt Redman was running through my head. I began to sing and praise God with my arms raised. As my heart filled with gratitude for Jesus, I suddenly heard the Lord’s still, small voice answer a question I was longing for Him to answer.

For more than a year I had asked God if this new book, Courageous Hope, was supposed to be formatted as a Bible study, just like Courageous Faith, or if it was supposed to be a book with discussion questions listed at the end of each chapter.

Right in the middle of that praise song, when I least expected it, with my mind fully focused on the Lord, God quietly and simply said, “It’s a Bible study.” My first reaction was a momentary pause, “Um … were you talking to me?”

God replied by filling me with a deep sense of affirmation and peace.

I was so excited and grateful for His unexpected answer, I couldn’t contain myself. I started jumping up and down, fist-pumping, cheering; “Yes! Thank you! Thank You Lord!! Yes!!” In my enthusiasm, I was even high-fiving heaven. I didn’t have to worry about missing His hand – the Bible says He measures the universe with His outstretched hand (Isaiah 40:12) His hands are huge!

It was so much fun – enjoying my Lord in that moment. Exuberant celebration flowed from my heart to His. My response wasn’t contrived, forced, or uncomfortable, it was simply a natural celebratory response to my Holy God and Savior as He answered a question I had been laying before Him for quite some time.

The whole experience made me think of Psalm 86:12: “I will praise the Lord my God with ALL my heart. I will glorify Your name forever.”

I wondered: “How often do I praise God with all my heart?” I had just then, but it certainly wasn’t my usual response.

I wonder how different our lives would be if . . .

Instead of taking our relationship with God for granted, we exercised some holy enthusiasm? Instead of worrying about looking dignified, we chose to abandon ourselves in pure holy delight as we praised our God with all our heart. What if . . . we said yes to God each time He invited us to respond to His voice, His hand, His presence, His constant love and His answers to our prayers with authentic, exuberant, and whole-hearted thanksgiving? What would that look like? How would it change us?

In her book, Lioness Arising, Lisa Bevere says: “He doesn’t save us to tame us.” Yes! Praise God! – He doesn’t save us to tame us. He saves us to unleash us that we might become the whole-hearted people He created us to be. He doesn’t tell us to praise Him with all our heart and then admonish us if we get a little too excited.

Have you ever jumped up and down as enthusiastic gratitude for your Lord welled up within you?

Can you imagine the delight of our Almighty Holy God as we smile toward heaven, blow Him kisses of thanksgiving, tell Him how much we love Him, raise our arms, fall to your knees, or fist-pump a humble and grateful “YES!” to our Savior.

Would you pause right now and ask the Lord to help you learn to celebrate Him with your whole heart in the moments of your days?