“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation.” – Psalm 42:5 ESV
Nine or so months ago I decided I wanted my guitar to sound as good as my son-in-law, Ben’s. So, I purchased the same fancy rig he uses, matching identically the name brands of gear. I was so happy! When I first got it, I spent a few hours dialing the sound in. Playing, turning knobs and getting the guitar’s resonance and tone balanced. I use the same rig every Sunday. I can practically set it up in my sleep.
Over the months, somehow with the activity of plunking it down, plugging it in and putting it away, the settings and dials that were once so carefully adjusted, moved. I’ve never noticed it. I’ve just been putting it together and playing music without detecting any differences. However, my son-in-law distinguished a change. At our last rehearsal I think he’d had enough of listening to my flatly “E-Qued” guitar. He looks at me very meekly, and asked, “hey, do you mind if I mess with your box a bit?”
I really hadn’t been thinking about how the guitar sounded, I’d dialed it in once before and just expected everything to sound great. I was just doing my thing—how bad can ‘cowboy cords’ sound anyways, right?
So, he has me play the instrument, all the while he’s down on the ground, bent over, adjusting knobs. Honestly, I’m thinking, “why?” All of a sudden he finishes, I play a sound check and notice that this instrument is sounding really cool again—Ben fixed it! I’d just grown accustom to it sounding like it was in turmoil, not realizing the guitar was performing poorly. Ben messes with the dials, turns up the presence of the guitar, and voilà—a new improved sound emerges that I’d forgotten this ‘axe’ was capable of producing.
Sometimes that’s how we can get with the spiritual life. We’re just doing our thing day-in and day-out, not really realizing something is slightly off. We’re grumpy not knowing why. We ask the same question as the Psalmist: “Why are you cast down, o my soul, why all the turmoil going on inside?” It may just be we need a simple adjustment; one that we’d not noticed was necessary. Other see it—we don’t. We’re just playing the same old ‘cowboy chords’ thinking all’s right with God and the world. Yet, at someplace we’ve stopped experiencing a full life—an abundant life.
Songs of praise can make a simple adjustment in our lives. How many times have I gone through the day, sort of blah—not realizing what that blah was—until I started praising God! Psalm 147, verse 1 says:
“Praise the LORD! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.”
I can ‘T.G.I.F.’ all I want, but it’s not until I start with praises in His presence that the fullness of joy and at pleasures at His right hand kick in. The abundant life starts when true praises before God begin. Just take a few moments to adjust the knobs and then ‘sound check 1, 2, 3.’ When praises begin, the turmoil of soul ends!
J. Robert Hanson