Psalm 150, begins, “Praise the Lord! Praise God in his Sanctuary…”
It ends, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!”
The Psalmist seems to think that everything that has breath would praise the Lord if I just “let” everything praise the Lord… as if uninterrupted, ecstatic praise were the default mode of the universe, and the thing that’s keeping all of heaven from happening is me.
“Let there be light.” “Let creation happen.”
I didn’t know that I had that power.
“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.”
Everything does praise the Lord in reality, according to Scripture.
And everything does praise the Lord in the fullness of time.
And I’m commanded to let everything praise the Lord, right now.
So, how do I NOT let everything praise the Lord?
Well, if I make “me” praise the Lord, I’m not letting me praise the Lord.
Perhaps I can make myself sing, read my Bible, and go to worship when I don’t want to go to worship. But I can’t make myself praise when I don’t want to praise, because praise is a want—it’s like a new want, or a new heart, sitting on the throne in the sanctuary of my soul. “Praise him in his sanctuary,” sings the Psalmist.
Praising the Lord is “liking” the Lord out loud.
When my son was three and performing in the Christmas play, he poked all his friends, pointed at me twenty rows back, and yelled, “That’s my Daddy out there!”
He praised me and found his identity in me—no longer was he just three, but a 29-year old me.
And I’m praising him right now—a miracle capable of reflecting my love, my image.
When we praise, we lose ourselves and find ourselves in the one we praise.
To praise is to be human; to praise is to be happy.
It’s why we do all that we do—we’re looking for something that will make us praise.
Something that will make us lose our selves and find ourselves happy.
Well, we can’t let ourselves praise if we make ourselves praise.
Just as we can’t let ourselves be saved if we think we make ourselves saved.
Just as we can’t let ourselves be made in the image of God if we think we make ourselves in the image of God.
Paul tells us in Ephesians that we were predestined to live for the praise of God’s glory.
You were predestined for freedom, for praise is freedom.
Freedom is the ability to be, and the desire to be, who you were predestined to be.
As Isaiah prophesies (and Paul quotes), “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! … ‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.”
To be created is to be saved, which is to praise God in freedom.
So how do I not let everything praise?
Perhaps I think I can make people praise.
Perhaps I think that some people can never ever praise.
Twelve years ago, I was publicly tried and defrocked, because I would not publicly confess that there was a group of people that could not be saved and that God took pleasure in not saving them. I wouldn’t publicly confess that NOT “everything that has breath will praise the Lord.”
The religious establishment can’t just let anyone praise the Lord, for we think we have the power to make people praise the Lord.
And so, praise becomes a threat that builds the institution but rapes the bride.
We tell people, “Praise God for he is Love, but if you don’t praise God, he will torture you forever without end.”
We teach people to honor the Lord with their lips and keep their hearts far from him.
Institutions can make things happen by consuming the life that is all around them.
A bride must let things happen by surrendering her heart to the Life that is her groom.
It’s true that, more than anyone in Scripture, Jesus warned folks about hell (both Hades and Gehenna). It’s also true that the folks he warned were his church.
He warned people that thought they praised and wouldn’t allow others to praise.
He said, “many will come from east and west and sit at table in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into outer darkness.”
That darkness cannot last forever without end, but why would you want it to last at all?
So, how do I not let everything praise the Lord?
Perhaps I say some things can’t praise the Lord because I want some things to praise my ability to praise. Which is a sneaky way of wanting all things to praise me, for I think “me is salvation” and doubt “God is salvation,” that is, Jesus.
To be trapped in that “me” is to be trapped in hell and unable to praise.
I can’t make “me” praise the Lord, but perhaps I can present “me” to the Lord.
I can present myself a living sacrifice.
The sacrifice the Lord desires (and we desire to make) is not a sheep or goat, but the sacrifice of praise. “Praise him in his sanctuary.”
When I stand before the throne in the sanctuary of my soul and see my Father’s heart bleeding for me, my ego—my old man, my clay vessel—is destroyed and the breath that God breathed into me, in the beginning, returns to the throne as praise—even as my new man rises from the dead in worship… my breath—God’s breath in me—praises the Lord.
Jesus cried, “Father forgive,” and delivered up his breath.
That’s the breath that falls on the church at Pentecost as tongues of fire.
The word translated “forgive” is also translated “let.”
Let everything that has breath—it’s all his Breath—praise the Lord.
“Let there be light.” “Let everything praise.” Do I really have that power: to NOT let?
Well in a dream, I do have that power.
In reality, everything does praise the Lord.
But in my self-centered dreams, everything praises me… and everything dies.
Perhaps our Father is letting us dream a dream that turns into a nightmare, so we would wake from that dream and forever delight in his presence.
How do I NOT let everything that has breath praise the Lord?
I don’t praise the Lord.
And how do I let everything that has breath praise the Lord?
I wake from my dreams and become God’s dream.
Perhaps he’s waking you right now.