That Awkward Moment: Raising Hands In Worship

I’m THAT person. When I listen to Christian music or praise music, I lift my hands to God in worship.

This is a relatively new thing for me. For years, I thought “those people are crazy.” When I stood beside them at church I started judging their motivation as self-elevation. Sort of an I-love-Jesus-more-than-anyone-else statement.

Then one day when I was particularly thankful and humbled and desirous of God’s presence, I was so filled with emotion, my body wanted to respond. On that day, my arms wanted to be raised. It felt weird at first, but something about it seemed…right. Eventually it became a natural expression of love – a way to interact with God.

Mostly I close my eyes if I have arms raised because it is an intimate moment born out of a compulsion to express something my mouth cannot. Plus, when I can see all those folks with their arms down, I start thinking about how they must be judging me.

What Does the Bible Say About It?
This morning God shed some light on this for me. I opened my Bible to Numbers. (Yes, Numbers!) There may not be too much action in the book of Numbers, but it’s jam packed with symbolism and finding it’s treasures is always a blessing. This morning was no different. These are the words God spoke to Moses:

“Then have the Levites stand in front of Aaron and his sons, and raise your hands and present them as a special offering to the Lord.” Numbers 8:13

Hold the phone! Light bulb moment! Thousands of years ago, Moses was instructed to raise his hands when he was presenting an offering to the others. Today, I raise my hands  in order to present myself as an offering to the Lord.

I’ve never noticed the correlation of this gesture before today. In fact, I never would never have described my motivation of raising my hands in quite that way. I would have described it as worship, glory, praise, gratitude, and a hunger for God. And yet all of these things together are the reasons I wish to surrender and offer my life to my God.

My God who never leaves my side. My God who allows me to be a part of His love story. My God who blesses me a million different ways before breakfast every day. My God who literally tore himself apart on the cross (an act He will experience for eternity) so that He and I could spend eternity together.

This short passage in Numbers, as dry and instructional as it is on the surface, just opened my heart to a new understanding of God.

This simple act has an immensely purposeful history. At first, God instructed us to give offerings through the Levites to reconcile our sins. But when Jesus took our sin when He died on the cross, the ultimate offering was given. Reconciliation was once and for all. Now, there is nothing else I can offer God except my life, and I do so by raising my hands just as Moses first offered the Levites in the temple.

I love his consistency. Making connections like these reveals more of His character, which I find more and more exciting.

Hundreds of years after Numbers is recorded, Paul says this in Romans 12:1
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.”

As I worship in song, I raise my hands to reaffirmation this offering to my God. Mind, body & soul – my life is an offering (hopefully pleasing!) to the Lord.

Raising my hands is something I feel compelled to do many times. But everyone worships differently. But what does it look like for you? I’d love it if you would leave your practices in the comments!

Here is one of my favorite praise songs – the second half hits me in the heart every time! The Stand – Hillsong United

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