I was grumpy. And not just because it was an early morning prayer meeting and I had to trudge my way across campus to be there. I was a student leader in Cru, and in other groups on campus and I really liked leading and serving. But… I was grumpy, and had been for a while.
After the prayer meeting I started shuffling off to the student union to kill time before my first class when a guy asked me a question. I don’t remember what he asked, or how long we talked. But I remember what he said: “Sometimes you have to put your hands in the air and talk to God out loud.”
Why do people raise their hands in worship? What is it about that posture? Surrender is about submitting to someone else’s authority, about laying down your weapons and entrusting yourself to the power, control and (hopefully) good care of someone stronger.
I surrendered to Jesus, entrusting myself to His good care, when I committed my life to Him. But because I’m human, I have to surrender repeatedly, as in, every time I pick up my weapons of self-protection, self-promotion, and self-preservation. Sometimes I spiritually surrender to Jesus several times a day.
Somewhere along the way of serving and leading and organizing, of doing all this good stuff for God, I forgot God, and it became about me. I started with a heart of love and gratitude for Jesus. But after awhile, instead of feeling free, I felt obligated and like I was jumping through hoops, which soon became this twisted thing about performing for God. I wanted affirmation, encouragement and praise from others. I felt like I deserved it, and like God owed me something for all of my good, hard work. So, yeah, I was grumpy. To put it mildly.
After that guy left, I scoffed at the idea of putting my hands in the air, hands which felt heavy like lead by my side. I whispered “Jesus” out loud, quickly looking around to see if anyone had heard me. Why was it so hard to put my hands in the air and talk to God? The idea was ridiculous. And the action seemed impossible. But I did it. And soon I had my hands in the air like a tween at a One Direction concert. And my grumpiness left. I just needed to surrender to God again. Physically, this time.
I admit this to be completely honest: That encounter was about 20 years ago and to this day, I’ve never seen that guy again. I wonder if he was an angel. He certainly was a messenger from God.
- How have you picked up weapons of self-protection, self-promotion and/or self-preservation?
- What parts of your life need to be surrendered again?
- What would happen if you raised your arms physically, and not just spiritually, to God?