This past weekend, I had the privilege to accompany some of the teens in our church to the Battle Cry event at the Meadowlands arena. It was both exhausting and exhilarating. Over the next few posts, I will share with you some small snippets that spoke to me in a huge way over this past weekend.
On Friday night, Hillsong United performed as the closing act of the night. As a huge fan of their music, that alone was reason enough for me to go. I sat behind our 6 boys (the girls were beside me) and was blessed to my core to see them all actively engaged in worship, hands raised and hearts abandoned.
I felt compelled to send this text message to my pastor who is also their Sunday School teacher.
Arms raised… 12
Worshipping God… Priceless
After the song “The Stand,” which contains the lyrics “I’ll stand with arms high and heart abandoned,” the lead singer said, “God is more pleased with the heart abandoned part than the hands raised part.” As a bona fide arm-raiser, that statement pierced me deeply to examine the degree of heart abandonment I offer God, and not just during worship, but in my day-to-day experience.
Do I get caught up in the music experience and miss the divine encounter? Do I offer merely lip service to God when He wants radical heart change?
The next day, I was challenged again. Believe it or not, during the rap concert! Now, I love contemporary Christian music, which to some hymn-lovers is akin to heresy. But honestly, I am guilty of feeling that way about rap music. Until Saturday.
I was in the back row with a birds-eye view of the entire arena. 16,500 people, mostly youth, multi-cultural, every race represented. 31,000 arms pulsing back and forth in unison, voices raised, loudly praising God. The rapper kept yelling “Let me ask a question!” To which he and the entire gathering yelled back, “Anybody wanna praise the Lord!” Over and over and over. When I thought it was over, he’d do it over and over and over again.
Suddenly, to my eye, the bright white stagelights blurred, and I sensed the presence of Jesus in that light joyfully receiving the praises of tens of thousands of His people.
I saw a vast crowd, too great to count,
from every nation and tribe and people and language,
standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb.
… they were shouting with a mighty shout...
Imagine - Jesus enjoying rap! It challenged me to expand my limited imaginings about what heaven may be like. Surely Jesus on His throne will revel in receiving praises accompanied by all kinds of music - African drumbeats, Caribbean steel drums, harps, guitars, and yes, even rap.