So much for writing more steadily… But to the post.
A while ago Jennifer Pharr Davis came to speak at our school. She is a well known hiker, who has hiked the Appalachian trails 16 times, and I think she holds the record for the fastest hike (45 days or somewhere close). She told a nice coming of age story, but inevitably, someone finally asked her, “but what’s the point of hiking?” (It was, of course, phrased more politely.) As a Christian, how does one justify spending so much time and energy on hiking? when it really doesn’t do much for the world or the church.
Jennifer’s answer was something along the lines of, “it’s what God made me for.” Hiking was something she loved, and on the trail she came closer to God than anywhere else. But also, it was something God made her good at.She explained that flat breasts and strong thighs – something that caused her much grief through adolescence – were perfectly suited to hiking. By utilizing the gifts that God has given, by utilizing them fully, it was an act of praise.
Praise is not simply defined as singing in church.
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. ~ 1Cor. 10:31
By utilizing our talents, by enjoying what God has blessed us with, that too is an act of praise. A power act of praise. Recall at the creation? God created “the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds.” And what did He say of them? “And God saw that it was good.” (Gen. 1:21) The fish were good, not because they could fly, or sing, or do cartwheels. They were good
because they had all the qualities of fishiness. They were excellent fish, because God endowed them with beautiful fishy qualities. Does that make sense? They were good, because they were fish.
The same goes for the birds, or the animals which creep and crawl, or the plants. They were all good.
Recently, I have grown rather fond of the verse about the shouting rocks. Jesus was at the Mount of Olives, and the crowds were praising God “joyfully… in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen.” But Pharisees, of course, were displeased and told Jesus to rebuke them. He answers “I tell you, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” (Luke 19:37-40) That’s a scary thought, shouting stones. But why don’t the stones shout in praise? Ought not all creation sing the praises of God? (Psalm 148)
Well, if you ask me, the stones are praising God, by merit of being very good stones. I mean, can one find a more stoney object than a stone? God made them stones, and they are beautiful stones. They are fulfilling all the duties of being a stone. And thus they are a beautiful praise.
Praise does not lie only in songs and dance, or even serving. It lies in using God’s blessings, be that in hiking, or writing novels, or learning a new language. It also lies in washing dishes – to do a good job washing dishes in a great act of praise. It lies in writing papers, in reading for class, in taking good notes. It lies in sweeping the floor, in taking the bus to work, or making a good cup of coffee. Everything can be done in a prayerful, praiseful heart. Monks once thought that manual work (e.g. gardening) was an act of worship. And I think they were right.