When I was growing up, it wasn’t unusual to hear my dad singing hymns. When he wasn’t singing in a worship service, he most often sang on his way to work at church, or on his way home. Sometimes he even woke us up in the morning with hymns. One I remember in particular is Hymn 536. Imagine rousing from a sound sleep to these words from the first verse:
Awake, my soul, and with the sun, Thy daily stage of duty run;
Shake off dull sloth and joyful rise, To pay thy morning sacrifice.
While there were many times I wanted a few more “slothful” moments, I understood the idea behind Dad’s song. Our first thought each day should be of how we can serve the LORD with the time He gives us, and serve with a joyful heart.
I hadn’t thought of this hymn in a long time. Then recently we had a school devotion that sparked my memory. Mr. Ohlmann told us that Martin Luther claimed the best way to begin each day was by singing a hymn on the way to work. He asked us how many of us had begun our day that way. Each one of us had to admit that we hadn’t sung a hymn on the way to school.
I reflected on my morning – the typical rush to get out the door in time, to make sure the kids had their lunches and I had my coffee, all while a never-ending To Do list scrolled through my mind. Praising God didn’t just come second, it wasn’t in the running at all. Often I am too tired, preoccupied, worried, or busy to go to the LORD in silent prayer, let alone break forth in song.
Do you ever feel that way? That there isn’t time to praise God because more pressing matters need to be handled first? Maybe amid the trials and tribulations of living in a sinful world you have forgotten God’s rich and abiding promises to care for you, guide you, and work all things for your good.
Preoccupation and doubt, busy lives filled with stress and worry, disagreements with those we love, and discouragement in our Christian walk can all be the reason our songs of praise never sound. Yet our devotion reminded me that we are to praise God in good times and bad. Philippians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always.” What a beautiful reminder this is, especially as we face daily challenges and struggles. Because Christ has defeated death and redeemed us from its power, we can be happy in all things. We can sing His praises not only in the morning, but all through the day.
None of this is to say I will be as energetic first thing in the morning as my dad was. I have no intention of waking my children with a blisteringly loud call to arms. Maybe I can sing a verse or two on my way to work (under my breath). But for sure and certain I will join King David in saying, “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth” (Psalm 34:1).