“Praise the Lord Oh my soul.” (Psalm 103:1) It was printed on a small card on the hospital breakfast tray. I had just given birth to my first child, a beautiful baby girl the doctors said could never be. She was God’s gift to me, the direct and deliberate proof of his love that melted my hardened heart and turned my life around. On that cold morning in November, 31 years ago, I smiled as I continued to read the words of that Psalm. At that moment I had more joy and love surging through me than I would ever have believed possible. So at that moment I didn’t need the words to tell my soul to praise God. My soul was overflowing with praise.
But sometimes I do need those kinds of reminders.
Like the Psalmist David, there are times when I need to command my soul to praise, to be thankful, to be still, to obey. Like David, there are things in my life that block the righteousness Jesus has put in me. My will has been bent by an unholy world and like the old song says, I am “prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.” I need reminders to pull me back into the light so I can again see the depth of God’s grace and mercy and move closer to Him.
I am reminded of an old urban legend about a man who said he felt like he had two dogs inside him. One was good and one was evil. When asked which dog would win, that man answered, “the one I feed the most.”
I try to feed the “good dog” – I read God’s word and other books that feed my spirit and nourish my soul and stimulate my brain to follow a righteous path. I listen to music that does the same. I associate with people who are on that same track. It works. God has designed it that way. This is the reason why man will always create, always search out that which is good and pure and beautiful, because he must have it to feed his own soul. He must have it to remind Him of the One who created all that is good and pure and beautiful. The longing is part of our DNA.
That’s why the scripture tells us, “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).
It is in pondering “such things” that we draw closer to our God. When we are confronted with such things – when we are captivated by them – we catch a glimpse of who God is – true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and oh so worthy of our praise. And we are captivated by Him.
All of us have that good and bad dog within us. Both dogs want to be fed. It’s up to us to choose which one will grow strong and which one will languish.
#5 in Kathi Macias’ 12 Days of Christmas Series.
A reviewer says – “I had the sense that I was reading a Christmas classic. It’s a tale of unlikely heroes and unexpected grace, right up there with O’ Henry’s The Gift of the Magi.”