Today on the commute to work I was listening to Hillsong’s No Other Name album as I normally do. I haven’t in a while because I’ve forgotten to charge my iPod but I remembered to the other day. I was feeling a little woozy on the bus and decided to take out my headphones and listen to it.
I was remembering how early on (when I started to first come to Hillsong) I would listen to my iPod and various Hillsong albums and have my eyes closed on the bus to or from work. More often than not I would see a vision of myself smiling and singing and dancing and lifting my hands to the songs. Maybe that seems normal but for me, prior to Hillsong, I can count on one hand or a few fingers the amount of times I’ve lifted my hands in worship. It was just never my thing. I never judged people who did, but I didn’t want to feel guilted into worshiping how other people do just to feel like I was doing Christianity properly.
Fast forward in time and now it feels weird not no lift my hands in worship. And that’s a cool thing. I remembered who I was and now who I am and it dawned on me that maybe God was showing me what He would see me doing one day. I wasn’t yet there, but He exists outside of time and had revealed something to me.
Anyway, I was listening to whatever song came on this morning and I saw myself singing and dancing around on stage like we usually do at church in choir, in the background, with the worship team on any given Sunday. But this time I was singing two lines. I wrote them in my phone which is why I included them in today’s picture. The first was “He who calls me to crush the heads of snakes”. And a few minutes later the second was “He who calls me to dance on graves”. I started to imagine me dancing on stage and looking down as the floor was covered in snakes. They didn’t try to bite me, they didn’t try to squeeze me, it was like no one was phased by it. Then I stopped day-dreaming and whatever the next song was started.
I decided today at work to look up these two things in the Bible. First snakes and then graves.
Here are some examples of verses that talk about snakes:
Psalm 91:1-13 You who sit down in the High God’s presence, spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow, Say this: “God, you’re my refuge. I trust in you and I’m safe!” That’s right—he rescues you from hidden traps, shields you from deadly hazards. His huge outstretched arms protect you— under them you’re perfectly safe; his arms fend off all harm. Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night, not flying arrows in the day, Not disease that prowls through the darkness, not disaster that erupts at high noon. Even though others succumb all around, drop like flies right and left, no harm will even graze you. You’ll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance, watch the wicked turn into corpses. Yes, because God’s your refuge, the High God your very own home, Evil can’t get close to you, harm can’t get through the door. He ordered his angels to guard you wherever you go. If you stumble, they’ll catch you; their job is to keep you from falling. You’ll walk unharmed among lions and snakes, and kick young lions and serpents from the path.
Jesus said, “I know. I saw Satan fall, a bolt of lightning out of the sky. See what I’ve given you? Safe passage as you walk on snakes and scorpions, and protection from every assault of the Enemy. No one can put a hand on you. All the same, the great triumph is not in your authority over evil, but in God’s authority over you and presence with you. Not what you do for God but what God does for you—that’s the agenda for rejoicing.”
How cool is that? It makes total sense now right? My first reaction whenever I’ve had any sort of dreams or visions is to go to the Bible first and see if it’s actually from God. I have my fair share of pointless or disturbing or random dreams and not all of them are worth exploring. But I was so excited after reading these verses because I got a few important points out of them:
- God rescues me from hazardous situations i.e. “snakes” which can be many obstacles, negative comments about you, gossip, sinful temptations, etc.
- Wikipedia defines snakes in one sections as “Most species are nonvenomous and those that have venom use it primarily to kill and subdue prey rather than for self-defense. Some possess venom potent enough to cause painful injury or death to humans. Nonvenomous snakes either swallow prey alive or kill by constriction.” In other words…there are different kinds of snakes. Some who appear non-threatening but can literally consume you or destroy you through consistent pressure and some that you know you should avoid completely because they are lethal. Wow.
- Psalm 91 says that I’ll watch safely from a distance kind of like how I saw this vision and no matter the amount of snakes, I knew that I was safe and smiling and dancing like nothing was wrong
- God is showing me what He has done for me i.e. I have safe passage as I walk on “snakes” through life because of His authority over and presence in me
Here are some examples of verses that talk about graves:
God, my God, I yelled for help and you put me together. God, you pulled me out of the grave, gave me another chance at life when I was down-and-out.
[ At the Bottom of the Sea ] Then Jonah prayed to his God from the belly of the fish. He prayed: “In trouble, deep trouble, I prayed to God. He answered me. From the belly of the grave I cried, ‘Help!’ You heard my cry. You threw me into ocean’s depths, into a watery grave, With ocean waves, ocean breakers crashing over me. I said, ‘I’ve been thrown away, thrown out, out of your sight. I’ll never again lay eyes on your Holy Temple.’ Ocean gripped me by the throat. The ancient Abyss grabbed me and held tight. My head was all tangled in seaweed at the bottom of the sea where the mountains take root. I was as far down as a body can go, and the gates were slamming shut behind me forever— Yet you pulled me up from that grave alive, O God, my God! When my life was slipping away, I remembered God, And my prayer got through to you, made it all the way to your Holy Temple. Those who worship hollow gods, god-frauds, walk away from their only true love. But I’m worshiping you, God, calling out in thanksgiving! And I’ll do what I promised I’d do! Salvation belongs to God!”
At that moment, the Temple curtain was ripped in two, top to bottom. There was an earthquake, and rocks were split in pieces. What’s more, tombs were opened up, and many bodies of believers asleep in their graves were raised. (After Jesus’ resurrection, they left the tombs, entered the holy city, and appeared to many.)
Once again I found these verses amazingly cool! Here are some takeaways from what I read:
- When we are “6 feet under” and have been pronounced “dead” in areas of our life, whether these are dreams, relationships, our optimism, whatever it might be we need to remember that when we call out for help God will pull us out of the grave. He pulled himself out of the grave and rose from the dead, and as children of God we have access to that same resurrection power. We have reason to hope.
- Prior the Hillsong I had a lot of hardships ranging from an abusive relationship to a dysfunctional relationship with my father to betrayals by friends and just overall despair and depression. When entering Hillsong I was desperate for a change. I was always in church every Sunday throughout my life and always considered myself to be born-again, but that doesn’t mean you are immune to life. Life happens, hurt happens, but you can choose what kind of seed your life has. I mean this in the Matthew 13 kind of way. For those of you who don’t know it says: “A farmer planted seed. As he scattered the seed, some of it fell on the road, and birds ate it. Some fell in the gravel; it sprouted quickly but didn’t put down roots, so when the sun came up it withered just as quickly. Some fell in the weeds; as it came up, it was strangled by the weeds. Some fell on good earth, and produced a harvest beyond his wildest dreams.” I think in my pre-Hillsong season I had seeds, I had moments where growth sprouted through different seasons but through various storms I withered and weeds began to strangle me. My hope withered, my view of God withered, and had I grown stronger roots I wouldn’t have died as quickly. You see? So I relate to Jonah in the part where he says “I’ve been thrown away, thrown out, out of your sight. I’ll never again lay eyes on your Holy Temple”. So often I felt unloved or betrayed by God. That He saw me but wasn’t acting on my behalf. That I was being punished for some past sinful behavior. That He didn’t love me as much as He loved other Christians.
- As low as you think you’ve gone, God can quickly pull you out. Jonah knows this first hand: “I was as far down as a body can go, and the gates were slamming shut behind me forever— Yet you pulled me up from that grave alive, O God, my God”
- I forget some times that when Jesus rose from the dead that other people rose with Him. In other words, nothing that looks dead in a Christian’s life can stay dead.
I love this song from this morning because it is a simple picture of what God has accomplished in just two years. “He who calls me to crush the heads of snakes/He who calls me to dance on graves”.
Be hopeful that whatever is trying to devour you, God has equipped you to crush. Be excited that whatever looks long dead, God will make come alive. God calls us by name and we see this proven in the Bible when He calls out to Adam, Moses, Samuel, and many other people. Never become bitter and believe that God has forgotten you or doesn’t know who you are. He does. And if He can show Himself faithful to me and speak to me I know He can call out for you too.