With Arms Wide Open

Over 15 years ago, my husband and I were members of a very large congregation in Omaha. When I look back at my first years as a “baby Christian,” I fondly remember some of my thoughts and feelings about worship.

This particular church had a contemporary style of worship, which my husband Scott and I truly enjoyed. One Sunday, the worship team played a song called, “Better is One Day” by Charlie Hall. As we stood worshiping, I looked around at the congregation and noticed several people with their arms reaching toward the ceiling. I glanced over my shoulder, and there was another person with their arms spread out like an eagle, swaying back and forth. I remember thinking, “Why are they swaying, and what is the deal with the dancing stuff?” I also remember my husband telling me that there were Christian rappers. I was so appalled by the thought of anyone “disrespecting” in God that way!

hands up

Two years later, I raised my hands in the air for the first time.  It was during a song called, “Come, Now is the Time to Worship.” The leaders of our old congregation had led a women’s conference, and during that song I closed my eyes and raised my hand. For me, it was a huge risk to step out and to physically show my love for God. Then, I started listening to more Christian music, including Toby Mac, who has some rap in his songs!

When I was a Youth Leader at our current church, the youth would enjoy turning off all of the lights in the sanctuary and then laying on the floor under the giant cross that hangs from the ceiling. To the teens, that was the closest they could get to God and worship Him without any barriers or restrictions. No one was there looking at them, just God.

For each person, worshiping God can look differently. I have witnessed people on their knees; I have seen others cry while tears stream down their faces. You can worship with your eyes open, eyes closed, or even just by sitting down through the entirety of a song.

Why talk about the way you or I worship, especially when I just wrote about it a few weeks ago? During worship yesterday, our leader Jay Srygley said something and God nudged me: when it’s time to talk to God, just do it. It may be with your face flat on the floor or it may be with your hands extended outward, swaying to a beautiful song.

If you don’t enjoy music, there are so many different ways to worship God: praying, sharing your faith, tithing or serving others.

Don’t be embarrassed about how you choose to worship; it’s not about anyone else but you and God. He’s waiting for you to talk to Him. Listen to this song…and talk to your Father.

With arms wide open,

Carey Oswald


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