By Tara Beattie

I grew up attending the Catholic church.  I loved my little hometown church.  I love the people that made up this church.  I loved our priest.  He was not your typical Catholic priest.  He was an older gentleman who wore leather pants and drove a Harley.  He had a zest for life and deep love for Christ.  Attending Catholic Mass was what was comfortable and I have never been one for change unless I initiate it.

As someone who grew up Catholic, I never understood how people worshipped with their hands raised and danced in the aisles.  I was always thinking in the back of my mind when do the snakes come out?  I have dubbed these folks the “front row Hallelujah sisters.”  No, they are not always in the front row, but front row sounds pretty good, right? The raising of hands and worship was so foreign to me.  I grew up attending service that was extremely regimented.  I loved the structure of it all.  I knew what to expect and I liked that sense of comfort.

My life began to take a turn that I did not see coming when we started attending Living Proof church.  I love our church.  Our church focuses on a personal relationship approach to Jesus rather than “religion.”  I had long felt a calling to re-dedicate my life to Christ.  I felt myself growing closer and closer to God.  Little did I know, my life was about to be forever changed.

I am not a singer.  You guys, I honestly cannot carry a tune.  I would mouth the words but did not really vest my time into worship.  I tolerated the singing to get to the message, you know the real reason you come to church- or so I thought. I will be extremely vulnerable and honest and say that I had a stirring to raise my hands long before I ever did.  I knew God was telling me to re-dedicate my life to him through baptism, but raising my hands… nope not happening- I was going to fight God on this one.  I full-heartedly believe that was the Holy Spirit trying to grab ahold of me and I resisted.  I was embarrassed of the thought of being considered a Hallelujah sister, I thought these gals would have shouted hallelujah at about anything. Honestly, I kept thinking about the Mississippi Squirrel Revival and at that point that was the ONLY way this girl would EVER raise her hands at church.

A few years later (yes years, I am a little head strong), I went to Desperation, a youth conference with my daughter, Kinsley in 2018.  I went with the purpose of getting Kinsley from Kansas to Colorado to Wichita for a softball tournament.  I was not expecting this to be a life changing event.  I was not planning on experiencing an “ah ha moment.”  While at Desperation, I was surrounded by thousands of teenagers who were on fire for God.  Several of those kids on openly professing their faith were from Living Proof.  That alone was a huge testament. It was almost like I was on the outside looking in.  Kinsley was one of those kids that was on fire for God.  I never really witnessed her worshipping.  I was humbled and blown away.  I watched my daughter pray with a complete stranger.  This girl worships like it is just her and God alone in a room.  She is all in no doubt about it.  Alicia and I were able to have a really special moment where we were able to pray with Belle. I can still picture MacKenzie crying because she was so excited and overwhelmed to be able to see Karie Jobe.  I remember the moment where I felt the walls I so strategically put up, coming falling down.  I wanted a deeper relationship with God.  I yearned to be all in. I never ever thought for even one second so many kids from LP would have such an impact on my faith life.  Remember folks, I was there initially for all the wrong reasons- getting to a softball tournament in Wichita and basically because I am a helicopter mom. And then I just could not fight this battle anymore.  At first it was a slow trickle of tears and then it was flood gates and I could not stop it.  And in that very moment with thousands of people in a filled auditorium, the final wall came tumbling down and with sweet surrender, my hands went up and true worship began for the first time.

Throughout the Bible, we hear of characters “worshipping.”  Psalm 95:6 says, “Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.”  Worship and prayer go hand in hand.  Psalm 29:2 2 shares, “A scribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.”

I wish I would have had a better relationship with God when my grandma JoAnn passed away, when our twins were born and when Brody broke his femur.  In each of these moments, I needed that relationship with God.  I needed those assurances.  I needed that peace that comes with having a strong foundation in Christ.  Instead, I had wavering faith.  I carried the weight of the world on shoulders that could not endure that type of burden.  Even when I was not engaged with Christ how I should have been…HE was still there.  He brought our family Kinsley when we lost my grandma.  He knew we needed a gentle soul to mend our broken hearts.  Sometimes I am blown away by their similarities- like crying on cue and having this amazing heart filled with love for kids at St. Jude’s.  God was also with us in the NICU.  He loved on us when we were treading on new paths.  He was most certainly there with us when Brody broke his femur.  He comforted our son when he should have been in horrific pain.  He calmed our heart as we raced to the emergency room to get Brody the care he needed.  When I was not present with Him….He has ALWAYS been PRESENT on my behalf. He is a good, Good Father.

I am not on the front row, but yes, I am a hallelujah sister work-in-progress.  Let me tell you, raising my hands and truly worshipping God has transformed my faith journey.  I have a deeper, but more importantly, a personal relationship with Christ that entails worshipping, praying and daily conversations with God.  I start my day with worship music.  I clean the house to worship music.  I fight my best battles with Biblical scriptures, worship music and prayer.  I will praise his name through the storms, enemies and when unbelief tries to sneak into my heart.  I believe in the hope that comes with being a believer.  I don’t think that means all my prayers will be answered in the manner I want them answered.  It means that I coming to God with my concerns and I rely on him and him alone.  He can handle my burdens.  I am simply am not equipped to handle such things, but the most amazing thing is…HE IS.  I am able to find peace knowing that I stand firm in God’s presence and the plans he has for me.

It is time for us as Christians to press into our relationship with Christ like never before.  Fellow believers it is past time to stand up and step out with your faith.  Our relationship with Jesus is not for Sundays only.  We have to accept the call to live out our faith in big ways.  We have all heard the quote, “God does not call the equipped, he equips the called.”  I am standing firm that when we enter into worship and praise as well as thanksgiving, we stop the enemy dead in his tracks.  We fight some of very best spiritual battles through prayer, worship and praise.  So, it’s time ladies and gents to mount up with the armour of God and go to battle.  Also, I am all in for a night of worship.  I think our hearts are desperately needing this right now.  Mine is.  I can and do worship in the privacy of my home but let me tell you, there is nothing more awesome that being surrounded with other believers worshipping the King of Kings.  Bad news/ good news…I can’t sing, run sound or play an instrument, but I can worship!  Who’s in?  Let’s do this! Even something acoustic!

If you do not know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, hey it’s time!  Let’s pray together! I would love to pray with and for you.  This has been by far the best decision I have ever made.  Remember, God is always good and HE is in control.

With Lifted Hands by Ryan Stevenson