Today, I had a extraordinary experience at Church. This morning was my fifth visit or so at Turning Point, a local Christian Church. Halfway through the sermon the pastor began speaking about worship and praise. At the previous Church I attended, they did no open palm hand raising, as some Christian Church members have the accustom of doing during praise and worship.
With that being said, it’s relatively new to me to be among others as they raise their hands high, palms open, some spread as wide as they can, others straight up, and yet still another existing class with their palms barely up to shoulder length and their elbows glued to their side. I’ve raised my hands every time I’ve been but there was nothing extraordinary about it. Yes, I felt joy and yes I felt I was participating in what others were doing, but that’s about it; that is until today. One time I raised only my right hand, too worried about what the people behind me would think of my left third finger being crooked, as ridiculous as that may sound, it’s the truth. That is what holds many of us back from raising them in the first place. Doubt. Feeling ridiculous. Feeling awkward. Feeling uncomfortable. That is exactly why some of us cannot summon the courage within us to sing aloud a single word on the big screen although many are singing. We see the person who invited us next to us singing yet we remain silent. We bite our tongues. We stick our hands deeper into our pockets, instead of stretching them out, we rely upon ourselves for courage instead of relying upon the Lord to give us the courage to stand strong and proud amongst the crowd of worshipers.
Normally, I sit toward the back. This allows me the opportunity to observe, and throughout the visits there has always been a handful of members who in my opinion, were looking to show off, even rubbing me the wrong way. I would ask myself, “Really? Is all that necessary?” I’d think to myself “Look at the old man, thinking he is special or that crazy old woman wanting to stand out more than us.”
Well today I learned why. Now I understand “Open Palms”. As the pastor spoke about the meaning of raising your hands with open palms, he reiterated the significance- it means to demonstrate our willful surrender and by doing so, we place glory and praise upon him; by being subservient to the most high, we place ourselves in a position to receive what only our Heavenly Father can give.
The pastor asked us to please stand during the song of worship with our arms up and open palms. At that moment, I witnessed more hands raised than I have ever seen. As I stood there with my eyes closed singing along with my arms up but not as high as I could raise them, I felt what could be best described as a gentle lift underneath each elbow, as if something was encouraging me to raise them a little higher. My rational mind turned off. I surrendered. I let go of my rational mind and felt with my heart and soul. I did not need my rational mind interfering. During that song, I was able to feel the most extraordinary, incomparable feeling I’ve ever experienced. I was able to feel simultaneously the harmonious synchronization of the collective body of members, all their energies pulsating on one accord; all their goodness combined with love, full of worship, praise, and thanks. My fingertips moved, they flowed like a imaginary piano was underneath them (literally). My arms pulled higher and forward propelled by this energy; as if they were placed upon a wave of nothing other than God’s Holy Spirit. I find it difficult to express in words, what my soul knows was real.
That is what open palms is all about. Thanks to the Lord, for helping me understand today, what I could not yesterday.