Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Hands High In Praise

Late last week I got some great news regarding one of my children. It wasn't a life and death situation, but something I have been praying for and hoping for. When God finally answered with a huge "Yes!" I was stunned in amazement. The next reaction was spontaneous and very much unlike my normal reaction to things: I raised my hands up in joy. I was so happy, joyful and thankful that my body just reacted. Reflecting on this I realize that still after all of this time of hopefully maturing and growing in my walk with Christ I am way too reserved in my praise of Him; the Extraordinary. We have so much to praise Him for and yet not only is it limited in the time we spend praising Him it's limited in scope. Why can't we just scream, cry, laugh, bow, or dance in joy?

A big part of why men lack is that we are once again boxed in by the world's definition of a male emotion. We are created to be emotional, but we are stifled by social mores that dictate how we are to act. Way too early in life we are told that emotions are for the weak. We are limited to laughing and getting angry in terms of social acceptance. Pretty pathetic if you think about it. Men end up stuffing or detaching from their emotions; the end result is all sorts of issues including depression; rage; anxiety and fear. Praise is a huge and positive step in terms of integrating and experiencing our emotions. There should be a moment in all our lives when we seriously contemplate what Christ has done for us. Perhaps in a song, or a film on the Passion or a passage of Scripture could hit us so hard with the depth to which Christ went to show His love for us. It should bring us to tears. We should bow down in thanks. Let whatever emotion you feel towards God be fully expressed. It's quite freeing and deeply refreshing. It will ease much of the stored up pain that we all need relief from.

I know that Tim Tebow is a lightning rod of controversy but I truly admire the young man. He has that settled peace that most men twice his age lack. One huge reason is that he knows his true Father and is at peace showing his love for Him.
One other thing that we have to get away from is the fear of men. Why do we care so much about what everybody else thinks? Fear is the universal emotion resulting from the fall of man. We are so afraid of what others think. Consider how much shame and scorn is heaped upon public figures for any misstep. Once I heard a comedian mention why men don't raise their hands too high when they're dancing. He said it was because there's an invisible "queer" line just around the shoulders that men's hands can't cross. The funny part is that there is some truth to that perception. Why should we care what other people define things as? Those who are at peace with who they are seem to be able to rise above all of that. In essence it's absence of fear that frees us. Adam was afraid of God in the Garden after the fall. Conversely, Christ, the apostles and so many who have died for their faith faced their fear and peacefully trusted in their Father. That is amazing.
To draw us closer to our feelings and to show just how much we as men do feel, think about the big moments you have experienced in sports. With apologies to Bobby Thomson, Carlton Fisk, Bucky Dent, Alan Ameche, Bill Mazeroski, John Havlicek, Bobby Orr, and Joe Carter; here are some that come to mind that hit deep for me:

The rag tag lowly eight seed 1994 San Jose Sharks oust the mighty President Trophy winning Detroit Red Wings on Jamie Baker's late goal.
Randy Hahn's call:
"It's over! The San Jose Sharks have pulled off a miracle. They're going to round two, Detroit is out!"
Cal vs. Stanford in 1982. The Big Game. Simply known as The Play. Joe Starkey almost bursts a lung with his call:
"AND THE BEARS!!! THE BEARS HAVE WON!!! THE BEARS HAVE WON!!! Oh my God, the most amazing, sensational, traumatic, heart rending... exciting thrilling finish in the history of college football! California has won... the Big Game...over Stanford."

Something I've waited all my life to see: the Giants win the World Series in 2010. Thank you Edgar Renteria! Not the greatest call, but Duane Kuiper gets the honors:
"Swing and a miss and that's it! The Giants are World Champions!"
US vs. Russia in the 1980 Olympics. Some consider this the greatest event in sports history. This Sports Illustrated cover is one of only three covers in their history that has no caption. Obviously, we all needed no explanation. We all love the underdog story. Al Michaels made the call (in only the second hockey game he covered):
"Do you believe in miracles? Yes!"

In the lore of Bay Area sports, this is the biggest of them all. This was the beginning of the dynasty. The Catch. Sprint Right Option. Joe Montana to Dwight Clark. The voice of the hated Dodgers, and perhaps the greatest announcer of all time, Vin Scully had the call:
"Montana...looking, looking, throwing in the end zone...Clark caught it!"
Psalm 150:4-6
"praise him with timbrel and dancing, 
    praise him with the strings and pipe, 
praise him with the clash of cymbals, 
    praise him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord."

Just taking the time to think about those moments stirs something inside of me. Great memories. Times when I jumped up and cheered like crazy. We have it in us. We need to express it. Meditate on how many great things are in your life. Smile about them. Laugh about them. Cry about them. Raise your hands and scream at the top of your lungs. God created us to express ourselves.

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