This summer, I had the privilege of leading worship with an amazing team of musicians at a national conference. One of the songs we sang was called, "Raise a Hallelujah."
This anthem became a battle cry for the attendees. It voiced their intention that in the presence of their spiritual enemies, they would, indeed, proclaim praise to the One who was the ultimate Victor in the midst of spiritual combat. And when the enemy, as 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 illustrates, tries to set up circumstances that challenge their understanding of the ability of God to overcome, they would "sing a little louder" knowing that "Heaven comes to fight for me."
In preparation to lead that song, the Lord brought to remembrance the blind beggar, Bartimeus. Sitting on the side of the road, wrapped in his self-identifying cloak of poverty, he had the audacity to shout, "Son of David, have mercy on me" when he heard Jesus passing by. Those around Bartimeus were offended by his behavior and sternly spoke this rebuke, "Keep still and be quiet." His valiant response? Calling upon Jesus "all the more" [Mark 10:48 AMP]. Responding to Jesus's invitation, he threw off his garment, jumped up and "made his way to Jesus" [Mark 10:50 TPT].
"What a picture of the Hebrew word, Halal," I thought. Bartimeus praised, raved, boasted, celebrated, and commended, with clarity of sound: all definitions of this root of the word, hallelujah. And in the face of scoffers, he "cried out even more loudly" [Mark 10:48 NRSV].
During the evening service, I shared that Scriptural imagery. I invited the worshipers to "raise a hallelujah" from any side-lined place of spiritual blindness and poverty in their lives and to "sing a little louder" in the face of intimidating circumstances that would seek to silence their praise. I encouraged them to throw off any cloaks that claimed an identity that was less than the Divine Truth of who they are in Christ. In gentle power, tender boldness, and unapologetic compassion, God met these self-abandoned worshipers with sweet restoration and healing.
Traveling home from the conference, though physically spent, I found myself overflowing with prayers of thanksgiving for all that God had done as people chose to "raise a hallelujah." The melody of the song was the soundtrack to my praises as we drove in the blistering heat along two-laned roads banked by thriving cornfields.
That was until a warning light on the dashboard usurped my attention ...and my gratitude. My mind began to race, fueled by frustration with having invested resources into a new vehicle that now seemed to be betraying the very reasons for which we purchased it. Considering multiple scenarios, pessimism flourished as I wondered what garage would be open on a late Sunday afternoon. We pulled off at the next available exit, which, of course, had multiple off-ramps and a myriad of signs pointing this way and that way. I was hemorrhaging joy. Spotting a potential place to receive service, I safely and legally zipped through an intersection. Or so I thought. Entering the parking lot, a white SUV with flashing blue lights followed me. With a deep sigh and a sarcastic, "Just great," I sunk further into the vortex of ingratitude.
Forty-five minutes later we were back on the road. In the weighty silence, I emotionally dropped my accumulated baggage and flopped down on a bed of failure. Burying my head into the pillow of self-pity, I lamented. I knew I had a crappy attitude and I knew that I set a terrible example for my wife. The enemy ruthlessly tossed in a few words whispering, "You JUST left a conference where you stood on that platform exhorting a crowd of people to praise God as they faced difficult circumstances. And here you are frustrated, angry, whining, and complaining about a warning light. Nice job raising a hallelujah. Loser." Pulling the proverbial blanket of condemnation over my head, I simply prayed, "Oh, God."
In His kindness, God brought to mind a Scripture. "I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit. Out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God" [Psalm 40:1-3 NIV]. As I recounted those verses, a melody of Johnson Oatman, Jr. bubbled up in my heart. "Lord, lift me up and let me stand, by faith, on heaven's tableland. A higher plane than I have found. Lord, plant my feet on higher ground." Clinging to this lifeline, the second verse of that hymn pulled me to safety. "My heart has no desire to stay where doubts arise and fears dismay. Though some may dwell where those abound, my prayer, my aim, is higher ground."
À la Bartimeus, I threw off my emotional blankets, stood up, and "made my way to Jesus." With thanksgiving, I recounted the enormous kindnesses of the Lord that we experienced in this seeming fiasco: no ticket, guidance from the police officer, and an answer to the warning light, just to name a few.
Upheld in grace, I sensed a word of counsel from the Holy Spirit as we walked through the lyrics of that song we so heartily sang at the conference. "Son, don't give away your authority to your circumstances. I want you to 'raise a hallelujah' in everything... not just in the big stuff. 'In the middle of the mystery,' let your praises 'roar' and watch hope arise, 'up from the ashes.'"
It may be that today, you are "in the middle of the mystery." Are you lost in the frustration of having surrendered your authority to circumstances? Perhaps unbelief is screaming in your ears. This is the time for raising halal. Oswald Chambers writes, "Spiritual confusion can only be conquered by obedience. As soon as we obey, we have discernment." Join with me on the journey of learning to heed the Psalmist's exhortation, "Praise the Eternal! ...Lift Him high to the high places in your heart. At this moment, and for all the moments yet to come, may the Eternal's name ascend in the hearts of His people. At every time and in every place - from the moment the sun rises to the moment the sun sets - may the name of the Eternal be high in the hearts of His people" [portions of Psalm 113:1-3 VOICE].
As God, the Everlasting One, is held high, we become as Paul said, "the visible display of the infinite, limitless riches of his grace and kindness" [Ephesians 2:7 VOICE]. A lifestyle of raised "hallelujahs" is how we "fulfill the destiny He has given each of us" [Verse 10] to partner with Him so that "the whole earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God!" [Habakkuk 2:14 NIV].
So, precious one, in the middle of ________________ [you fill in the blank!] it's time to raise a hallelujah! With everything inside of you, sing a little louder! Let's watch and see what God does as, "...we offer up to God all the glorious praise that rises from every church in every generation through Jesus Christ - and all that will yet be manifest through time and eternity. Amen!" [Ephesians 3:21 TPT].
You can be a part of the fulfillment of Habakkuk 2:14! To learn more, grab your Bible and watch God's Glory through You. This 45 minute message casts vision for how you can partner with God to speak the word that sustains the weary.