Sometimes I look at times gone by and wonder what it would have been like to live in a different era. I especially love the Victorian age. I love the slower pace of life and the way people paid attention to details. Things weren’t so hurried and people took time to enjoy the simple things of life. I love the stories of quilting bees and church picnics; of sitting on the porch on a summer evening. I could get really wistful about it.
But it wasn’t up to me to choose when I would be born or where. God did the choosing. He decided exactly when I would be the most useful to His kingdom. He decided where I would be most effective for His purposes.
It’s like God had a huge map and timeline, stretched it out before Him and planned in great detail the way it would be. Of course He didn’t do it that way. He didn’t labor over it like we would. It wasn’t like us trying to arrange the furniture in a room “if this goes here then that could go over there.” His plan was perfect from the beginning.
Psalm 139:16 says “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” God knew where my life was headed before I was even born.
1 Corinthians 12:18 says “But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.” He knew exactly where I fit.
God has designed each of us to be right here, right now. He looked over the entire timeline of humanity and the giant globe he created and he pinned an exact spot and time for you! This is the appointed time. Now is the time to look around you and see where you can make a difference. You were meant to be right where you are. There are things you can do that bring Glory to God and advance His kingdom.
“But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. “ – Hebrews 3:13
Perhaps today there is someone whose encounter with you was ordained from the beginning of time. Maybe today is a day that you, by your obedience to live your life to the fullest for Christ, will help change a life for eternity. This is when we can say, “seize the day!”
Picture with me a large wooden rain barrel. In the old cartoons when a farmer was trying to protect his chickens from a fox he would take his shot gun and send the buckshot flying. Predictably, the barrel would take a hit and would be riddled with holes from which the contents would leak in every direction.
Does that sometimes describe your own life? Does it seem like your peace and joy are leaking out in all directions and you can’t seem to get filled up and stay that way? You can’t possibly manage to plug all those leaks. There is no way to keep the contents inside with all those holes!
But God has a solution. He tells us to be thankful.
“Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name.”– Psalm 100:4(NASB)
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.”– Colossians 3:15(NASB)
“Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting.” – Psalm 106:1(NASB)
Each time you offer thanksgiving to the Lord, it’s like putting a cork in one of those leaky holes. Grab a bucketful and start plugging those holes. Soon you will experience the Lord’s peace and joy beyond measure!
The scriptures contain many places where it says “lift holy hands” or “lift up your hands.” Why does God encourage us to do this?
We all know that body language is an important part of communication. Without it, it’s easy to misunderstand a person’s meaning sometimes. We rely heavily on the signals people send with their bodies while they are speaking. If you do a study in body language you will find the consensus is that lifting our hands, raising them palm side up, has several possible meanings.
One thing that can be communicated by raising upturned palms is surrender. The police will tell a suspect to raise their hands so that they can see them and know they aren’t going to do anything that will catch the officer off guard. But it also puts that person in a position of surrender, of submission. It changes the dynamics of the moment immediately.
Another thing that can be communicated with this gesture is that the person is asking to receive something. If someone is about to hand you something, you instinctively reach out, palms up to receive what they give you. At the same time, the person giving something often reaches out in the same manner. So both giving and receiving involve this hand gesture.
Finally, consider a young child. A baby who is sitting for the first time may throw her hands in the air in great joy over her accomplishment. And when she learns to toddle, she will approach her daddy with arms stretched high, wanting him to pick her up and comfort her.
Now back to the original question. Why does God encourage us to lift our hands? I believe all the reasons just stated are also God’s motivation. Lift your hands to surrender, to give yourself to Him, to receive all He has for you, to express joy and to be comforted. The Lord designed us to include our bodies in our communication. It isn’t a mandate that we must raise our hands in church during worship or prayer or else we are doing it wrong. It’s simply a means God designed for us to draw closer to Him whether it is in a corporate worship setting or in the privacy of our own prayer closet.
God is our Father and we are his children. He loves nothing more than to have his children reach out their hands to Him.
“Lift up your hands in the holy place and praise the LORD!” – Psalm 134:2
There is nothing worse than a dance partner who doesn’t know who’s supposed to be leading. First he leads, and then he hesitates, not sure if he’s leading or following. Inevitably, someone’s toes get stepped on.
Watch an old Fred Astaire movie if you want to see how it’s done right. He confidently leads and his partner is secure in his arms just gliding along with him. No one trips over the other. No one’s toes get trampled.
The Holy Spirit is a great dancer. He is confident in his lead. He knows exactly where the next step is supposed to be. He holds on to His partner with grace and strength helping to keep balance while moving fluidly along.
Allow yourself to dance with the Spirit. Allow Him to guide you and lead you from one step to the next. He will never step on your toes, so be sure not to step on His. He is the perfect partner and you will have the time of your life if you just let go and allow Him to lead.
“For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” – Romans 8:14 (NASB)
I recently read an interesting question in an old devotional book. The question was, “Why would you allow any human experience to affect your divine relationship with your Heavenly Father?”
What experience in this earthly life is worth anything in comparison to our relationship with our Father? We find ourselves trying to make sense of the things that happen in our lives and disappointment and frustration set in when we aren’t able to accomplish this.
How many times have you allowed disappointment to put distance between you and God? Maybe we don’t do it consciously but if we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that it is easy for disappointment to turn to discontentment.
When we are in the middle of a situation that we don’t understand or we see things happening in the world that make it look like God has stopped paying attention we can allow our focus to become clouded. We can forget that God is love and he loves us perfectly.
But God’s Word is clear:
“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38-39(NASB)