Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Praising God, not our way but His
Arms raised in surrender and affection – we are told to do this
I HAVE SOME early memories of my father coming home, and every one was an exciting moment! This was not home from work in the evening – his particular work took him, in a uniform, far away to sea for months at a time. It was a very long time for a small child.
So when he was back on leave and the taxi from the station dropped him home (there were always presents – mine was once a child-size Arab head-dress making me into a little sheikh) we all rushed out, and reached up. That’s what children do – they reach up.
That’s a good picture of the praise relationship. The focus is about who the person is. The action is about submission. The intention is about an act of blessing:
Lift up your hands in the sanctuary
and praise (barakh – bless) the Lord.
The Message renders the verse like this:
Lift your praising hands to the Holy Place, and bless God.
Seasoned worship pastor US Jason Lee, who wrote a book with the snappy title of Praise – get the hell out, put it like this from his own experience, remembering his small children:
“I remember when my third child was three years old. She would walk up to me every day and lift her hands up to me and say ‘Up, daddy!’. In essence she was surrendering herself and giving up control of her own destiny and choosing for me to hold her and control where she went – all by lifting up her hands and surrendering to me.
“Sometimes in worship I have observed what is going on and kept my own arms folded – when in reality I should have surrendered my own will and raised my hands to Jesus so that he could pick me up.
“You might say, ‘Well, I don’t worship that way.’ Truth is, I don’t think you have a choice. We can’t worship OUR way; we have to worship God’s way! Just one reference in scripture (and there are hundreds) tells me what God demands of me during worship.
Sing to the Lord, praise His name; proclaim His salvation day after day. Declare His glory…
“I can’t find anything in scripture that says, ‘If you feel like singing, sing to me,’ or ‘If you feel comfortable lifting your hands or dancing, then go ahead.’ Instead, over and over in scripture, it is a command to sing songs of praise, to shout, to come before the Lord with thanksgiving, to praise Him with the dance. The list goes on… It’s not a suggestion, it’s a command.
“May we learn from children. Uninhibited, undignified, they admit that they they need someone else to help them reach new heights, they are naive enough to trust, loving enough not to look through eyes of prejudice, free enough to dance and laugh, brave enough to try to walk, knowing that they will fall but knowing that someone bigger will pick them back up.”
May we learn indeed. We will go on to discover that this act of surrender and desire for closeness is, spiritually, one of the most powerful things we can do to rout the enemy. That is probably why God chose, through a low-key prophetic word shared by a member of the congregation, to set our attention on what His word teaches us about praise and its effects, at this time.