This Instagram and Facebook post I wrote about praying at my friend’s new house had more views and positive feedback than any other I have made. That is why I have to let you see the text I got from my friend on the night I wrote that post about praying and waiting for the rumble of your dump trucks.
Some of you may have read my post and felt a surge of encouragement, followed by that sinking feeling.
“I know I need to keep praying, but I have prayed for this, not months, but years.”
“The trucks may come for you, but what if they never come for me?”
“I wish I could pray about something as glorious as a new house or a new career or a ‘new build’ of any kind in my life, but unfortunately, all of my prayers are focused on trying to keep what I do have from being torn down!”
Your thoughts are like muddy tires, spinning and never catching solid ground. Soon, you sink up to your motor.
My favorite line in Psalm 102 in the New Living Translation sounds more like a country song than a Bible verse: v. 9, “My tears run down into my drink.”
I remember on the day I read that line, my tears really had run down into my drink, dripping into a glass of sweet tea that I could hardly taste because of the overwhelming sorrow in my heart. I had never noticed my tears running into my drink before, and then when I read about it in the Bible, my heart started beating faster.
I knew in a deep place that God had seen every tiny splash.
If you are experiencing a time when tears are running into your drink or when your truck is stuck, my encouragement to you today is brief and direct. I am giving you a homework assignment. Like Jillian Michaels from The Biggest Loser, I am the Hope Coach that will help you trim the fat of your negative thoughts, so take my advice to heart. This is what you need to do immediately.
- Go subscribe to my podcast, Keep Going with Nika Maples, and listen to Episode 14, entitled “Welcome to the Indefinite Wait, Part I.” Continue to listen as the other parts of this lesson roll out in the coming days. If you don’t have the ability to listen to podcasts, you can click here.
- Read one Psalm out loud to yourself every day. Any Psalm. Some of them will be sorrowful, like Psalm 102, but others will be laden with praise. It is a simple prescription, but the key is to read them out loud.
- YES, OUT LOUD.
Psalms are songs, and songs must be sung out loud. I write about this in the chapter called Sing Truth in my book, Hunting Hope. In that section, I quote a friend who says that sometimes his ears need to hear his mouth say what his heart believes. It is not just him. We all need to practice this. When our trucks are stuck, we may not always know how to pray, but we can always praise.
Another friend and I have a joke about a tambourine. She and I grew up in a tradition of worship that was very reserved and quiet. We sang hymns. We had no instruments, and for a long time, no one would even clap in a worship assembly. There sure wasn’t any hand raising or sudden movements that could be misconstrued as dance! Even so, we were blessed. The sounds of the singing voices in our worship services were breathtaking — unmatched! — almost heavenly in their four-part harmonies. But now I don’t think I could hold myself back like I did for all those years. I can’t stay quiet. I can’t stand still. So, for some time now whenever I was overjoyed, I would say to my friend, “Girl, God is so good, I’m finna get me a glory tambourine!”
It was a marvelous surprise when she beat me to it and left one sitting on the desk where I write.
What a brilliant connection she had made: the praise comes before the work.
No, the praise is the work.
I spruced up my new glory tambourine with a Sharpie and Psalm 84:11, and now, I’m gettin’ ridiculous with that thing before I sit down to write every day. I’m pretty sure I need to watch some YouTube videos to figure how to play it in a classy way because right now, it sounds AWFUL! But who cares?!
The point is: I’m deliberate about singing and making a sound of praise. That is the work that gets your truck unstuck.
Some of us need to go full-on Miriam in the face of our problems. Read about her in Exodus 15:
Then Miriam the prophet, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine and led all the women as they played their tambourines and danced. And Miriam sang this song:
“Sing to the LORD,
for he has triumphed gloriously;
he has hurled both horse and rider
into the sea.”
If y’all want to be my back up dancers, I’m ready to lead you like Miriam. Just let me know.
Has God EVER taken you through a Red-Sea-crossing in your life? Healed you or someone you love? Delivered you from financial ruin? Restored something you thought you had lost? Start there! Praise until your voice goes hoarse, even if what you are praising Him for happened twenty years ago.
The work of praise is the work of faith. Praise always expects that there will be more to praise about. Yes, we cannot earn blessings and favor from the Lord, but we also cannot expect to sit back and do nothing, and have Him dump the bounty in our laps. God was giving the Promised Land to the Israelites, but they still had to fight some battles to occupy the property. When we get busy with our “tambourines,” we are letting the heavens know that we refuse to stay stuck. God said the promised land is ours, and we are going in.
I love the second text I got from my friend.
The following morning, she sent me this priceless picture of her husband taking care of business and getting that truck unstuck. Do you think for a minute he was going to let it stay immobile in front of his new house? This is a man who sweeps the concrete and checks on the construction every day. Tony knows how to work for what he wants, and his diligence and discipline have taught me more than I can say over the years.
His wife is a gifted and anointed Bible teacher. But so is he.
She teaches through words. He teaches through sweat.
Many of the days when I was praying on their new porch, he was inside, lifting, cleaning, fixing, and working. There is no A/C, and he could barely get a July breeze through the open windows, but he stayed until the work was done. Or he’d be outside in the back under the miserable sun, mowing, spreading dirt, or picking up trash. Do you think a man who has put that much muscle into his property would let a dump truck stay stuck in front for more than 24 hours? Um, no. He was going to dig it out, no matter what.
Through him I see how foolish it would be to let negative thoughts stay stuck on the property of our souls. We cannot afford to linger in a bad frame of mind. Praise is the way we dig ourselves out.
Let’s get to work.