It’s hard to describe the homesickness that I feel in the middle of the winter. Nights are cut short by darkness, dark beer, and hibernation. Just when I can’t stand to detest my thick layers any longer, the corner appears. Spring, awakening after a long slumber. It saunters into moonlit evenings, stretches into blossoms and gentle breezes, and the sweetest lavender smells fill the air like buttery jazz music. Oh, how wonderful it is to watch the whole of creation making a joyful noise to the Lord.
Psalm 100 is my favorite call to worship. Through these words, make a joyful noise to the Lord all the earth, I imagine the exchanging of seasons—winter to spring. I can witness the resurrection all around me—dying and rising with new life. But I can only bear witness to these things if I’m looking up. A few weeks ago it was Earth Day, which I only remembered because I saw it on Instagram. It didn’t feel weird then; but as I reflect, it feels weird now. I noticed that it was Earth Day because other people were posting love notes to the earth on social media. What’s up with that?
As I’ve been reflecting on the psalmist’s call to creation, I find that the second prompt tastes particularly sour: serve the Lord with gladness. Lately, I’ve been serving the Lord with anything but gladness. I’d call it serving passively or out of obligation. All of my gladness is spent instead on perusing Instagram, or Snapchat, or Facebook, or Twitter, or Pinterest, or Netflix—especially Netflix.
I often find it hard to sit at the dinner table without reaching for my phone. Immediately before bed, I scroll through new Instagram photos. When I wake up, I check my email. To let loose, I watch 3 episodes of my favorite show. I serve the allusions of connection. I serve the relationships of people I see but don’t speak to. I show up for God, but I give my heart to the beautiful images I see on a screen, sometimes sacrificing my time for people I’ve never met before.
Thankfully, our psalmist reminds us “that the Lord is God” (I’ll add that we are not) and “it is he who made us, we are his;/we are his people and the sheep of his pasture.” This careful reminder is so chock-full of grace and love. As a sheep, I am prone to wander. But Jesus, through his death and resurrection, has reminded us that He’s in it with us—he’s here for the long haul, he’s done the hard work, and he is continuously showing us the way.
But practicing this focus is going to take some work. It might mean feeling uncomfortable at a restaurant—leaving your phone in your pocket while your friend goes to the bathroom. It means waiting in line and noticing the people you’re waiting in line with. It means walking down the street without your headphones. It means awakening from the cold, dead winter, and rising with the cherry blossoms, the lilies, the daisies, and the sunshine to make a joyful noise to the Lord, with all the earth.