Monday, June 13, 2011

The Total Body Hallelujah - It's Quite a Stretch

I can only remember one poster hanging in the room I shared with my sister when we were kids. I'm pretty sure I got it at church in children's choir. In the middle of the very 1980s pink and lavender poster, there was a woman's silhouette stretched out in praise. I mean head up, hands raised, back arched, on-tippy-toes praise. And, she might have been wearing legwarmers.

It read, "A Christian should be a HALLELUJAH from head to toe," a quote from St. Augustine. I remember learning as a child that "hallelujah" meant praise the Lord. There was probably nothing I loved to do more than sing when I was growing up, especially at church. But God showed me that praising the Lord was so much more than singing - it was living. And in my heart, as much as a little girl could, I really wanted those words to be true of my life. I still do.

I want to live in such a way that every part of me brings praise to the Lord - not just my mouth when I'm singing, but my hands and my feet, my eyes and my ears, my mind and my heart. In fact, I don't want to just bring praise to the Lord - I want to be praise to the Lord. And, I don't want there to be any dichotomy between the woman who sings and serves in the House of God, and the one who sings in the minivan and serves in the Fine house. David said it like this in the psalms: "Oh my soul, bless God. From head to toe, I'll bless his holy name!" (Psalm 103.1 MSG)

The total body “hallelujah” is quite a stretch for me, because my greatest failures happen in that hot red minivan and in that Fine house. Ironically, the same mouth that loves to sing "hallelujah" can also be critical and nagging or angry and harsh. As women, we're quick to pile on the guilt, but I believe the idea of head-to-toe praise is full of encouragement for us! Because this sweet bit of truth means that today, when my feet walked down the hall to deliver clean and folded laundry to each child's room, those feet praised the Lord. And today, the soreness I feel in my, ahem, lower extremities, from exercising yesterday, is actually my body praising the Lord - alot. The shoulders that carried my son in the pool, the arms that loved on my man, the fingers that typed emails praised the Lord. My mouth teaching, cheering, laughing, my ears listening to stories, struggles and jokes, my eyes responding with interest and love - all these praised him. And even when my heart and mind were seeking forgiveness for all the parts that didn't look like a “hallelujah,” I was still praising him.

How is this possible? Because through it all, my heart was stretched out like the woman on that poster - stretched out to the Father for help, stretched out for mercy and forgiveness when I blew it, stretched out for wisdom, stretched out for motivation, stretched out for endurance. And I stretched out with thanksgiving because I knew God noticed me stretching. You see, he loves it when we stretch. James 4.8 says, "Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you." The beautiful thing is, no matter what our physical posture, our hearts can keep stretching. And when the heart stretches toward the Lord, the body follows praising him from head to toe.

"So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life - your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life - and place it before God as an offering." Romans 12.1 MSG

I pray that today, as you stretch your heart out to the Father, you will sense his nearness more than ever before in the ordinary and the everyday. I pray that you will be encouraged by the way that God values all that you do - from your head to your toe. And I pray that everyone around you will see you living a total body "Hallelujah!"

I would love to hear how you praised the Lord with your body today!


Laura said...

Fantastic blog Daphne. Thanks for sharing. LOVE IT!!!

Daphne Fine said...

Thanks Laura!! Hope all is well with you!

Anonymous said...

I Love it!!!!...I needed that big time..Super encouraging..thanks for posting....xoxo, Rosie

Daphne Fine said...

Thanks so much, Rosie! Miss seeing you friend!