Wineskins Archive

January 23, 2014

Senses of Worship, Part 1: Holding Hands With God (May 1992)

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The Senses of Worship, Part 1

by Jeff Nelson
May, 1992

“OK, I’ll hold hands with God.”

This was the unspoken worship language of four-year-old David Vanderpool, as he raised his hands in the air. At his “ripe old age,” he had outgrown holding hands with his family during meal-time prayers. His mother gently negotiated, “Either hold hands with us or hold hands with God.” Quick as a flash David’s hands reached upward! The family smiled, bowed their heads and gave thanks – probably for more than their food.

And this was not to be the last “hand-holding” for David. He kept holding hands with God at every prayer-time – even at school when his class prayed! “Yes,” his teacher confirmed, “most of the kids bow their heads and fold their hands, but David raises his hands and says he’s holding hands with God.”

I think David is on to something big and beautiful!

Worship, simply stated, is holding hands with God. God reaces from his sovereignty to the heart of humankind and invites us to come as close to him as we will allow him to come to us. “Come near to God and he will come near to you” (James 4:8). The more we sense the presence of God, the more we want to be in his presence.

God’s presence cannot be manipulated. We can only acknowledge it and choose to live in it. Life reaches its intended height when we grasp the reality that God is constantly with us – and wants to be. A favorite hymn states our potential relationship with him:

My God and I go in the fields together.
We walk and talk as good friends should and do.
We clasp our hands; our voices ring with laughter.
My God and I walk through the meadow’s hue.

Can you imagine – a God so near you can hold his hands? Michaelangelo’s breathtaking painting shows the hand of God touching the hand of the first man he created. The touch of the Almighty. God “holding hands” with humankind.

Sistine Chapel detail by MichaelangeloA precious three-year-old boy in our church suffers the rarest type of cancer. A tumor the size of a grapefruit was reemoved from his stomach, along with a kidney. His prgnosis was uncertain but somewhat promising at the time of his surgery. His grandmother, a godly woman, was extremely concerned about her grandson, but life was following a relatively normal course several months after the surgery.

While on a weekend outing with close friends, she dreamed a perplexing dream. The place and the faces in the dream were vague, but the experience was most vivid. She sat in a group of people gathered for worship. As they praised God she felt strength come into her body at the simple meniton of his name. The more she said his name in worship the more strength she felt. And the more strength she felt, the more she wanted to worship.

Next morning, she shared the dream with her friends and asked if they attached any special significance to it. That afternoon at five a phone call informed her that her grandson’s cancer had reoccurred. Three spots showed up on his lungs. Although grieved by the news, she felt the significance of her dream. For her it meant she was to praise and worship her sovereign God in the face of this unfair tragedy. He would supply the needed strength for her and her family.

A group of believers gathers every Monday evening in earnest prayer, expecting the hand of God to touch and heal this child. Her strength and insights are teaching us powerful lessons in praise and worship and prayer. We believe the hand of God still touches and heals those who are willing to “come near.”

Four-year-old David stands in a long line of worshippers who lifted up their hands to God:

For strength – “As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning. Aaron and Hur held his hands up so that they remained steady” (Exodus 17:11-12).

For joy – “Clap your hands, all you natins; shout to God with cries of joy” (Psalm 47:1).

For worship – “I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer” (1 Timothy 2:8).

For healing – “People brought their sick to him, and all who touched him were healed” (Matthew 14:35-36).

For equipping – “They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them” (Acts 6:6).

Why hands? Hands speak eloquently! Without hearing someone we interpret conversation simply by watching their hands. Hands rival faces as the most expressive part f conversation. Some people literally could not talk if there hands were tied.

Hands express emotions. Have you ever seen a touchdown when hands weren’t thrown into the air? Did you see any hands expressing victory or defeat in the recent Olympics? When you see someone giving a “high five,” you see celebratio for the glory of that moment. A child who needs attention instinctively thrusts hands toward the parent. A loving parent can scarcely refuse to respond. I wonder if God uses his hands when he talks about us?

Assessment – When we come together to communicate with God as his body, we tend to “sit on our hands.” Is it the fear of man standing in the way? Do we have nothing to express?

A few Sundays back as I led a lengthy period of praise and worship, the church stood. A time of high-spirited praise songs shifted toward a more reflective and worshipful mood, so I motioned for the people to sit down. One man remained standing on the second row with his eyes closed and his hands raised, unaware that everyone around him had sat down. He was deeply involved in the worship he was offering. All eyes were on him as he continued standing through another song. His wife, seated by his side, chose not to disturb him. A few of the teens giggled a bit; then they stopped. The entired church seemed to sense a “teachable moment.” Without saying a word, our new preacher had taught a strong lesson that will make a difference in shaping this church.

Proposal – In the privacy of your home, worship the Lord using your hands. Clap for joy as you sing songs of praise. Raise your hands as you pray, giving him honor and receiving his touch. See if your communication with him is not enriched.

Peek into a church sometime where you hear silence. You may think nothing is being said, but the hands may tell a different story. Hands touching eternity bring into focus a God who has come near. You may never raise your hands in a public assembly, but to feel the release in your heart to do so is to celebrate the freedom of Christ and to sense the nearness of a Father who reached farther than you’ll ever understand to touch you.

Hands are for giving and receiving. Hands may respond when words are not appropriate. God’s touch is as real today as i ever was. he’s as close as he’s ever been. God’s hands are extended. Are yours? Are you “holding hands with God”?Wineskins Magazine

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