The whole earth is full of His glory

By Lynn Moffett
Special to The PREVIEW
Desert is my least favorite landscape. To me, the brown, dried-out vista always feels abandoned by God. My lack of enthusiasm for such places could stem back to the nearly 50 years I lived in the arid inner reaches of southern California.
I love mountains, beaches, verdant valleys and stretches of plains. In these environments, it is easy to celebrate creation and the Creator.
Last June, I took a trip to Phoenix, Ariz., for a baby shower. My local family invited me to accompany them on the long drive. We left the San Juan Mountains for high desert, traveled ribbon roads for hours through changing altitude and scenery. Nearing our goal, we dropped down out of the Tonto National Forest and entered a panorama of straight, extremely tall cacti with arms. Pictures of these plants can be found most anywhere, but in real life I was struck with the shape and determination of the flora in that “dry and thirsty land.”
Songs came to mind. “All Creatures of Our God and King,” lyrics by St. Francis of Assisi, and “The Whole Earth is Full of His Glory,” by Chris Falson.
I said to my traveling companions, “Look, those cacti are praising God.” They didn’t appear impressed.
When we settled in our lush rental house and things quieted, curiosity sent me hunting. I opened my laptop to discover the name of the mystery plant, saguaro, described as, “raising its arms to God.” I guess I called that right.
At the same time, I remembered my first day, November 1969, at Church on the Way. When Pastor Jack encouraged everyone to raise hands in praise, I resisted. My background didn’t include such a strange, unseemly practice.
Later, when we sang “Fill My Cup, Lord,” it made sense to open my hands to form a waist-high cup in front of me.
What I found when I studied the subject of raising hands amazed me. One hand in the air signals “Here I am, recognize me. I want You to see me here worshipping You. I sing these words to You.”
Two hands up is the universal signal of surrender, so I’m saying, “I surrender to You, Lord.” It also means “I want to be close to You,” like when a little black-haired girl’s father comes home and she thrusts both hands in the air, “Pick me up, Daddy, pick me up!”
Scripture tells us lifting hands blesses the Lord, calls for help, celebrates, is a mode of intercession, a sacrifice and/or a sign of a deep longing for God.
Being aware of the reason we lift our arms and hands in church turns what is these days a common practice into genuine communication.
In lifting my arms, I discovered the beauty of being abandoned (an Oswald Chambers word) before the Lord.
Are you aware the saguaro isn’t capable of shooting up an arm until after it reaches 70 years old? I’m glad I didn’t wait. I am a world-class hand raiser in the presence of our Holy God and there is nothing unseemly about it.
What a delight to find a reminder of a long ago lesson from cacti in the desert I considered forsaken. The whole earth is full of His glory.
1 Timothy 2:8 says, “I desire therefore that in every place men should pray, without anger or quarreling or resentment or doubt [in their minds], lifting up holy hands” (Amplified Bible).
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This story was posted on August 31, 2017.