When it was my ministry to lead worship, I became one of those abandoned, crazy loud, holding nothing back kind of leaders. I was compelled and determined to practice what I preached. To teach about the importance of surrender, and then not exhibit it would be complete hypocrisy in my mind. All in. Every time. Putting my heart on display every single time. Vulnerable. Tenacious. Determined to cut through the junk of the world and drag people straight into the throne room. Some would not go. No matter what, surrender seemed beyond their desire or capability, but I went anyway.
After I left that assignment, I remember vividly the first time I sat in a worship service at my new church. I was a just another face in the crowd, just the way I wanted it. But when the worship set began, I knew I had a choice. Just because no one knew me, didn't mean that God didn't see me standing there, about 12 rows back, tucked in between strangers. I was not a stranger or invisible to Him.
Have you ever noticed that the lifting of hands usually means one of two things? One is surrender, of course. As kids we all grew up playing with our friends, mimicking what we saw on tv, we'd play cops and robbers and say things like, "This is a stick up, put your hands up," or "Stop, In the name of the law! Put your hands up," or we'd play war and say, "get your hands up and surrender, or else!" Open palms is actually a universal sign of honesty. It shows we have nothing to hide, no weapons. That's where handshaking came from - I extend my open hand with nothing concealed and no weapons up my sleeve.
So when we worship, hands up often signals surrender, both to heaven who is watching, but mostly to your own heart. Nothing concealed. No hidden motives up my sleeve.
Hands up can mean something very different though, especially seen in sports. When an athlete wins, it signals victory. In DailyMail.com, David Matsumoto, professor of psychology at San Francisco State University, is quoted saying: 'Triumph has its own signature expression that is immediate, automatic and universal across cultures.'
Could the raising of hands also mean the same thing in worship? I believe so. As an act of faith, when times are hard, when we are heartbroken, or confused, or even exhausted, raising our hands can be a signal to the enemy that we have the victory because we are in Christ and trusting Him to complete the work He has started in us.
Remember when Moses was watching the Israelites in battle and as long as he kept his hands up the victory was theirs. But when he got tired and put his arms down, they began to lose! I believe that our hearts need to be postured in this way everyday, we worship from a place of surrender and trust, but also from a place of victory!
(As a side note: for pete's sake, surround yourself with people who will hold your arms up when you get tired. Tell somebody you need help!)
Jehoshaphat was leading the people of Israel against a frighteningly barbaric enemy and the Lord instructed him to do something remarkable.
"The Levites (both Kohathites and Korahites) stood to their feet to praise God, the God of Israel; they praised at the top of their lungs! They were up early in the morning, ready to march into the wilderness of Tekoa.
As they were leaving, Jehoshaphat stood up and said, “Listen Judah and Jerusalem! Listen to what I have to say! Believe firmly in God, your God, and your lives will be firm! Believe in your prophets and you’ll come out on top!” After talking it over with the people, Jehoshaphat appointed a choir for God; dressed in holy robes, they were to march ahead of the troops, singing,
Give thanks to God,
His love never quits.
As soon as they started shouting and praising, God set ambushes against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir as they were attacking Judah, and they all ended up dead."
2 Chronicles 20:18-23 (Message)
So as I stood there, lost in the crowd, I willed myself to worship. I determined in my heart to live the same way hidden as I had lived on the stage. Full on, battle ready, fully surrendered, totally engaged. The victory was mine. Not because I won it, not because I deserved it, not because I earned it. Victory is mine (and yours) because HE WON IT!
Jesus fights for you and He sees you hiding there in the crowd, and He even now, is watching over His word to complete it in your life. Lift your voice and your hands and shout to the God who saves, who's love never quits.
Let this video inspire you to live in victory today. Will to RISE. (That's what I'm doing.) Come on, we can do it together.