One of the most difficult things I have encountered as a man is raising my hand to say “abuse and trauma sucks, and it’s not my fault – but I am choosing to take responsibility for it”. That is hard because my flesh wants nothing more than to point the finger and blame everyone else for my problems. The problem is, I have done that much of my life and all it has led me to is bitterness, resentment, selfish pride, anger, depression, anxiety, fear, doubt… The list unfortunately goes on and on. I did not experience even a fraction of freedom from any of that until I chose to raise my hand. It does not excuse the really nasty stuff that was done to me. It simply is a gesture of surrender.

My little kids aren’t so little any more, but every day they run up to me and raise their hands to get my attention in hopes that I will pick them up and squeeze them. We raise our hands during worship in an act of surrendering our lives to our Creator. We raise our hands when we have been caught breaking the law to surrender our power to authority. Going to a depression recovery center was a public declaration that I am surrendering this control that I covet so much. But really it was in that act that I learned how much I need to surrender my life completely to Jesus. I have fought tooth and nail (epic old school record label btw) to find communion with Jesus. I was desperate for it. Longed and thirst(ed) for it since as early as I could walk. But it was impossible for me to find that union with Him so long as I placed pride and bitterness above Him. Yes, He will always meet us where we are at. But He also asks that we surrender our lives fully at the foot of the cross. Jesus raised his hand voluntarily to be charged and crucified for MY offenses. That was the ultimate surrender. My sin and pain and suffering has ALREADY been paid for.

Oswald Chambers tells us that God wants a complete and full union with us, but we MUST forfeit our right to ourselves. Meaning this pain, abuse and suffering I have experienced is not mine – He purchased all of it on the cross. He raised his hands in the most vulnerable and humiliating way so that I wouldn’t have to anymore. My right to be full of rage and hate. How could Jesus do this? I believe He couldn’t have if He held on the anger and bitterness for those killing Him, because He was dying for them too. As long as I hate my enemy, I will be living under the umbrella of hate. As soon as I can surrender that to Jesus, the sooner I can be free.

I love this image. We were in Haiti in 2011 shortly after the devastating earthquake. It was the night before a new president was being sworn in. He wasn’t a Christian, but wanted to create unity among the people, so he asked the local church to put on a worship service. We didn’t want to miss out. Little did we know that a half-million people would show up and sing and dance their faces off to Jesus. I don’t know if I will ever experience a worship setting quite like that this side of Heaven. A country that was in complete ruin, plagued by taboo religion, poverty, colossal destruction. They came together under a unified Hope that a new day was coming. They just needed to have something to hope in, as they have been pummeled for decades. We didn’t understand the words of the music, nor could we really community with the locals. But it was a night of the most radical worship I could imagine. 500,000 people with hands raised high, surrendered to their Creator – the only one who could give Hope to such brokenness. They had every reason to be mad at the world, each other, God. And they were, until that moment. We need something to Hope in. And that is Jesus. All it requires of us is raising our hand to say “I am bitter. I am angry. I am a mess. I need you. More of You, wayyyy less of me.” Let’s do it together. It is far less scary and humiliating if we all get out of the bleachers together and move towards Him.

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