My “thinks” on hand raising during worship.

I am surrounded
By the arms of the father
I am surrounded
By songs of deliverance
-Bethel Music (No Longer Slaves)

This song has always been one that really gets to me. Without fail I am usually a sobbing mess by the time we get to the chorus. And thank God the music is loud enough that no one can hear me singing this at the top of my lungs!

Most of you know by now that I have not had a good relationship with my father. And as you may have read in the last “thinks”( Meeting my Dad for the first time: How to handle good memories), the one good memory I did have only made things hurt more.

Church is for silence

I was always taught that church was to be a place of quiet music and no expression. However there were some churches that I remember visiting that people were yelling uncontrollably usually about something that the “young generation” was doing that someone didn’t like (or something racist… *See The Racist Church). I have also been to some churches where men (no women of course) were running down isles and jumping up and down about political topics.

I’m not knocking anyone if they have a different way of worshiping God (silently or loudly), however the examples I saw of “worship” as a child were often double standards and to be honest, complete nonsense.

I heard many reasons why hand raising was bad or for the “Pentecostal” (I love my Pentecostal brothers and sisters by the way. I was raised Baptist so I heard this a lot. Sorry guys.) So when I first started going to a non denominational church, I felt completely lost.

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I clenched my fists in church

The first time I walked into 515 Garson Drive at Passion City Church, I was overwhelmed. There was so much going on and it was a completely new experience. Yet even though I was unsure of what to do the first Sunday I was there, I realized one thing these people had in common.

They loved people and they loved God.

During the worship music there were hands raised all across the congregation. Although I didn’t dare raise my hands the first week I was there, I later learned this was a physical response to God’s love. I also heard testimonies of people surrendering their hearts to God during the times of worship.

Hand raising, a sign of surrender

I heard this once before that raising your hands is a sign of surrender or giving up to God. However, for me, this did not culturally make sense. As most of you know, I was raised in Japan, a place respect. And to show respect, bowing is a common sign of showing humility. So to raise my hands as a sign of humility never made sense.

When it all made sense

I was in a desperate place in my life as my husband was recently sent away on his first deployment. I couldn’t even begin to explain the loneliness I felt. One day in desperation I lifted my hands to God as an outward prayer towards Him. I felt that God was speaking to me and telling me not to focus on anyone around me but Him. And I finally realized what God wanted to say to me.

You are MY daughter.

It was an incredible realization that God wanted to be my Father and would NEVER leave me. I was just starting to realize what my identity was in Christ as His daughter. Through obeying God in this small gesture I was no longer concerned with what others thought about me in church.

God gave me a vision of a young child just learning to walk. And as a child stumbles, the loving parent would hold both hands of the infant to help them walk. They would not push the child or punish them for wanting help to walk. But rather, the little one would be cheered on to continue and not give up.

In the same way, God has been with me through every difficult time and has never wanted to let go of my hands. When I reach out to heaven during the worship time (or sometimes in my kitchen or a red light…) I envision a loving Heavenly Father helping me walk. And just as the wedding is more beautiful with a father daughter dance, I picture my Heavenly Father “dancing” with me through every moment of my life.

I hope you enjoyed today’s “thinks”. I know we talked about something rather different today, but I hope that wherever you find yourself, that you know you are loved far beyond your understanding. I hope you believe that you are cherished and are here on purpose for a purpose.

You are loved!
Joy

PS.
I just launched my YouTube channel yesterday! I’d really love for you to check it out here:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCo-ZgyvsjvzqU8fwOuo_zKw

See you there!

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