Driving to work, feeling frazzled and sad, I turn on Rachmaninoff’s Vespers, and my soul is taken elsewhere.

Praise the Lord, oh my soul, the hymn begins. I think about how tremendously fortunate it is that in his empathy and foresight, God has given us the aptitude to praise him in a way that is pleasing for Him, and for us. There are moments of clarity when you recognize who you are, who He is – your soul yearns to break out of your body and dash across green fields, your palms tingle, you inhale deeply. And at that moment, when you are consumed by a thankfulness so strong it threatens to overpower you, God gives you the voice, the words, the movements, to praise Him.

In worship, you offer your imperfect attempts but He makes them pure, makes them powerful, makes himself pulse through you so that you are able to give him the praise that he deserves – perfectly. I think that’s why worship can be such a powerful experience for people: they are not only offering their praises up, but they feel God within.

I also think about the resurrection. In church there’s a group of Christian ex convicts who always sit together, right in the center of the worship hall. They always clap the loudest when there’s mention of forgiveness and new life, new hope. They sing their hearts out, too. I look at them and envy them a little. They were fortunate enough to have their sins revealed to the world. Now they could no longer pretend that they were perfect. Instead, these people received punishment but also, forgiveness. They embraced death and resurrection.

But what about the rest of us, standing tense, singing loud but not too loud, raising up our hands, but not too high, rising up when we are told, sitting obediently when everyone sits. What about our resurrection? Outwardly living a righteous life, we are lulled into complacency. We begin to believe the fallacy that we are not so bad. Hey, we didn’t break into a bank. We did not steal, embezzle, beat, rape or murder. But woe to the person who thinks along these lines. They are most in need of resurrection, but feeling that their lives are pretty much okay except for a few tweaks here or there, they do not buy into a complete burial of the self. They cannot be made new because they like the old.

Several years ago I married and had kids. Through the many unexpected turns of events, I beat my chest, threw ashes on my head, begged God, complained to him, berated him. “Why?!” was the question of many seasons. These years have been the most difficult for me, not only because of the hardships that I endured, but because these hardships revealed to me the extent of my own depravity. Daily I face the abysmal darkness that is in my heart. It is near overwhelming.

And slowly I begin to see His mercy. Finally, I want to bury the old. Finally, I want to be made new. And how great it is that inner darkness so deep that it becomes palpable can still be overcome. It has been overcome! And now I want it. I want the resurrection for me.

Praise the Lord indeed, oh my soul, all my inmost being – praise His holy name.

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