Thoughts for Whole-Hearted Christians on Off Days

Is it just me, or do you sometimes have an “off day” too?

As much as I want to wake up every day ready to take the world on and, by the end of the day, have a completed to-do list, all with actions that truly made a difference for eternity, no less; that’s just not the way it always happens.

Years ago, I read a quote by Jim Elliot about not doing life by half measures: “Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.”

That quote resonated with me, as does Colossians 3:23: “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.”

I don’t want to live by half-measures. I don’t want to just go through motions. I want to give my all from my soul. 

Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.—Psalm 103:1

Some days it is easy to bless the Lord like this. From the depths of your heart and the whole of your being you praise Him with all your soul.

But what about days when you don’t have very much soul? What about the days when you are overcome by fatigue? Unrest? Pain? Distraction?

What about when you are discouraged? What about when you have questions or are wrestling with doubt? What about when every time you turn around your to-do list is growing longer and your stamina shorter?

How do you bless the Lord on those days?

Psalm 103:1 has the answers.

1. Boss your soul. 

Maybe that’s not the gentlest way to say it, but you get the idea. Sometimes we just need to make a choice.

Was David’s opening, “Bless the Lord, O my soul” an exclamation, or was it an instruction? I’m not sure, but I know from experience that it can be either.

Tell your soul, don’t ask it.

2. Give your all.

If Psalm 103 said, “Bless the Lord, O my soul: and give a certain amount of fervency to doing it,” we would be limited by our off days. Some days we could do it, and other days we couldn’t measure up.

But one simple word levels the playing field—all. That’s good news, because 100 percent of your soul on an “off day” is as accessible to you as 100 percent on your best day.

Some days all is awesome! (I like those days.) Some days all is anemic.

But, regardless, you and I can always bless the Lord with all that is within us. And we can do so knowing that God never asks us to give more than our all.

3. Look upward. 

We have two unhelpful tendencies when it comes to praising God.

One is to look outward. If our circumstances are good, we say, “God loves me. I know, because He did _______ for me, and I praise Him for it.”

Our other unhelpful tendency is to look inward. If we feel jubilant and praiseful, we bless God. If not, we don’t.

It’s not wrong to rejoice in happy circumstances. (Although they don’t prove God’s love any more than hard circumstances disprove His love.) And it’s not wrong to sing our expressions of joy from an overflowing heart. (One could even surmise that Psalm 103 is such an expression.)

But the point is that we aren’t called to bless our circumstances or our feelings. We are to bless His holy name.

And it’s the upward look, rather than the outward or inward, that always gives us a reason to give our all in praise.

Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.—Psalm 103:1