The Drive #1 – Our Praise is Like a Stream in the Valley

I was driving to work recently when a few out-of-the-ordinary happenings occurred. I like to use back roads to get to my office, and those roads have been closed lately due to overhaul construction. This has caused detours, roadblocks, and needing to remember that I have to remember to take the long way, because the back roads are closed!

But in the process, I received two valuable blocks of instruction. We will consider the first of the two in this post, where God used a valley stream to teach me things about the kind of praise he’s looking for.

I was headed to work, and forgot that the back roads were closed. Upon realizing it, I was looking for the best place to make a U-turn, when I noticed a beautiful stream beside the road. I felt an unusual stirring to pull over and look around for a few minutes, so I did.

As soon as I stepped outside of my vehicle, a voice as clear as day began speaking to me, and didn’t stop for the next 20 minutes. It told me that my praise is like a rippling stream, with the capacity of being well-pleasing to God, and that by observing this stream, I would receive some instruction. Just as I was pleased by the sight of the stream in the valley, God is pleased by our praise.

I heard and saw that praise is like a stream in the valley in 3 ways:

  1. The stream was noticeable
  2. Objects in the stream don’t stop the stream
  3. Eyesores of the stream

1. The Stream Was Noticeable

And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the LORD; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid. – Ezra 3:11 (KJV)

Here in Ezra we find the Jews praising the Lord, as the foundation of the temple (commissioned by Cyrus) was laid. Ezra goes on to declare at the end of the chapter that between the noise of the shouting for joy and the weeping of the old men, one could hear that something was happening a great distance away. Their praise was noticeable.

And as I thought on the valley stream before me, I noticed that this stream is visible. This particular stream wasn’t noisy, as some streams can be. But the stream was noticeable, and the stream was a very lovely organic sight.

And just as the stream in the valley was noticed by me, our praise should be noticeable to God. The stream was appealing, as our praise should flow naturally and please God. Does God notice your praise? Is your praise appealing to him? Your praise will appeal to God when God is who your praise glorifies.

2. Objects In the Stream Don’t Stop the Stream

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9 (KJV)

Here we find Bro. Paul asking God to get rid of something. I believe it was a physical limitation that Paul requested God to remove. God tells Paul that the “thorn in the flesh” will stay. Paul would live out his days with the handicap, and faithfully finish his race, according to 2 Timothy 4:8.

I noticed some big rocks within the stream. What does the water do? It flowed over the rocks, and over time probably took the sharp edges off the rocks. The water became wavy as it flowed over the rocks, and just as the rocks in the stream couldn’t stop the stream’s flow, inabilities and imperfections inside of us can’t (shouldn’t) stop our praise. God will see our praise flow right over them.

As a singer, I deal with severely debilitating stage fright. That’s a rock in my stream. But that’s not a rock that should stop my stream, because my praise should just flow right over of the stage fright. In other words, I have to make sure that that rock in my stream doesn’t get so big that it dams up the stream. If it does, I become useless.

The rocks in the stream are part of nature, just as limitations are part of who we are. Within our praise rocks can only get as big as we let them get. Water should still flow over the top of them.

Let your praise flow over your rocks, and keep the importance on the stream, not the rocks embedded within the stream.

3. Eyesores of the Stream

And as I walked on a little farther, I noticed a glaring reproach to this charming nature scene. A tire was protruding out of the stream, and the water had to flow around the tire. In other words, the scene was molested by a man-made object, which depreciated the stream’s appeal. It was out of place, and didn’t belong.

As a singer, I have strongly considered getting some performance coaching. Maybe I can sound like a seasoned and confident singer by getting a bag of psychological reinforcement tricks! Every time I thought to pursue it, I always felt like it would wreck everything and was a bad idea, so I’ve never searched it out. And I could never figure out why. Thanks to this stream in the valley, I know why now!

Man-made obstructions don’t belong in the stream. They get in the way of the water, and they’re not indigenous to the stream itself. Causing repulse, they don’t add value, they detract from the value of the stream, and it would be better to not even have them present.

More than the refinement of a professional performance, God seeks a natural stream of praise that flows from me. If it gets too polished, it could be ruined. If we’re not careful, certain skills within our service can become man-made obstructions to the flow of our praise.

To preserve God’s relish of your praise, keep all man-made obstructions completely out of your praise stream. Your praise doesn’t have to be perfect according to you – it needs to be real and organic from you. It may be undignified in the eyes of men, but it is that which deeply satisfies the heart of God.


The three ways the valley stream’s flow and our praise are similar are these: they are noticeable, objects in the flow cannot stop the flow, and eyesores (objects that don’t belong) can appear.

How is all of this tied to the power of God? I’m glad you asked, because it gives me an opportunity to share of my latest favorite verse:

Wherefore the LORD God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the LORD saith, Be it far from me; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed. – 1 Samuel 2:30 (KJV )

What this verse is saying is simple: if you’ll honor God, he’ll honor you. If many people in a place honor God, God will honor that group of people. Question: what do streams empty into?

Catfish creek and hundreds of other creeks and streams are connected to the Mississippi River, from Minnesota all the way down to Louisiana. Streams, creeks and tributaries connect to rivers and greater bodies of flowing water.

The force of a river’s current dwarfs that of any one of its contributing components. A stream’s current will carry a toy boat half a mile an hour, whereas a river’s current can drown an experienced diver.

Let’s put it together: when a congregation as individual streams channel their praise into a mighty river in which the current only flows in one direction (unity), MANY honor God, and in turn, based on 1 Samuel 2:30, God will honor many. The greatest honor God can bestow on any people, at any time or place is his very presence. And God brings his power and glory right along with him.

By praising the Lord as individuals and as a congregation, let’s remember that our praise is as ever-flowing and admirable in God’s sight as we want it to be; the choice is up to us. So let’s remember the lessons about our praise as they compare to a sweet stream in a valley.

1 comment:

Sheila Deeth said...

Lovely message. I love how God put you there and how you put me there too. Lots to think about.