BEHIND THE SONG WITH KEVIN DAVIS
#236 - "I Lift My Hands" by Chris Tomlin
NRT's Kevin Davis speaks with Chris Tomlin at Creation East 2011 about his hit worship anthem, "I Lift My Hands."
 


Chris Tomlin recently returned with his much-anticipated new album And If Our God Is For Us...  which features the hit song "I Will Follow" and a new studio recording of "Our God," the anthemic declaration of faith that spent weeks on top of the Christian radio charts. The new songs on And If Our God Is For Us... came from Chris' experience as a worship leader over the years, and currently at Passion City Church in Atlanta, led by communicator and pastor, Louie Giglio. As the songwriter behind the worship favorites "How Great is Our God," "Jesus Messiah," "Holy is the Lord" and "Forever," Chris continues to write songs that connect people to the heart of Jesus and lead them to a greater worship of Him. 
 
I had the privilege to attend the And If Our God Is For Us tour on Friday, March 18th in Hershey, PA (see full write-up here). Louie Giglio delivered a very inspiring message somewhat based on his Indescribable and How Great Is Our God DVD’s where we learned about the Creator of the universe and how we were all created to worship and praise our God. The planets bow before Him, the whales sing to Him, and as His created beings in His image, we are all made to worship Him (Psalm 145:3-7). 
 
After Louie finished speaking in Hershey, PA we all sang “I Lift My Hands.” I got the great opportunity to interview Chris in-person at Creation Northeast about his current single “I Lift My Hands.” 
 
Please tell me the message behind the song “I Lift My Hands.”

Some of my songs start with Louie. When we wrote “I Will Rise,” Louie said he felt like we should have a song for when people look over a grave or lose someone to give them a song of hope. There’s not too many of those songs. There’s “It Is Well With My Soul” and “Blessed Be Your Name.” We decided we needed a song for those situations. I co-wrote “I Lift My Hands” with Louie Giglio and Matt Maher. The song comes out of a struggle Louie had with anxiety and panic. He was struggling with health issues and he felt like everything was shutting down. I remember he would say that at night, everything was dark and consuming. So many people are there and can relate to what that feels like. In the night, Louie would just start singing to God and lift his hands to God in his bed.  I still don’t know the tune of Louie’s song, but he came to me with the words, “be still my soul, there is a healer, His love is deeper than the sea, His mercy is unfailing, His fortress is for the weak, I lift my hands to believe again.” When he sent me those lyrics, he said if this hits you in any way for a song to let him know. I was like, yes, it’s already there. So the song became “I Lift My Hands” from reading Psalm 28. David seems to have been in that same place. “Hear my cry for mercy as I call to You for help, as I lift up my hands  toward Your Most Holy Place.” I thought that was so powerful.
 
Did you and Louie base the song on any Bible verses?

Psalm 46:10Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!

Psalm 28:1-2To You, LORD, I call; You are my Rock, do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if You remain silent, I will be like those who go down to the pit. Hear my cry for mercy as I call to You for help, as I lift up my hands toward Your Most Holy Place.
 
How can listeners apply that message in their walks as Christians when they listen to the song?

When we say “I Lift My Hands,” it is a beautiful expression. It’s a human expression, not just Christians. We see people lift their hands about all kinds of things that excite them, like football games. It signals victory and it is natural to lift our hands. Or it’s a time of surrender. Hopefully you never get caught by the police and need to do that, but they say “put your hands up.” I knew when people saw this song title they would think it’s about raising your hands in worship. So, this song isn’t what people think it’s about. It’s not “Unchanging” or “Holy Is The Lord.” It’s one thing to lift our hands in worship and celebration, but this song is about lifting up our hands in surrender to God. The song is about reaching out to God for help. That’s why the song includes the lyrics “let faith arise.” The lyrics “let faith arise in me” are okay to admit. It was okay for David to admit it. Louie was struggling with anxiety and I think it’s beautiful. People can relate to that message. You may see someone on stage and think I wish I could walk with God like that. Nobody has a red phone to God. We’re all in the same place. We all struggle while we walk on this earth. It’s just this picture of someone reaching out to God and saying, Lord, I’m just remembering Your faithfulness and I just need You now in my life. I’ve seen Your faithfulness through the years of my life and I’m calling out again, I lift my hands to believe again. I’ve gotten so many e-mails from people in Missouri and Mississippi who have had their homes destroyed by tornadoes. I had no idea that this would be the song for people in those moments. It blows me away that people who are losing their home towns are singing “I lift my hands to believe again, You are my refuge, You are my strength, As I pour out my heart, these things I remember, You are faithful, God, You are faithful, God, forever.” 

 
Be still, there is a healer
His love is deeper than the sea
His mercy, it is unfailing
His arms are a fortress for the weak

Let faith arise
Let faith arise

I lift my hands to believe again
You are my refuge, You are my strength
As I pour out my heart, these things I remember
You are faithful, God, forever

Be still, there is a river
That flows from Calvary's tree
A fountain for the thirsty
Pure grace that washes over me

So let faith arise
Let faith arise
Open my eyes
Open my eyes

I lift my hands to believe again
You are my refuge, You are my strength
As I pour out my heart, these things I remember
You are faithful, God
You are faithful, God, forever
 
Here’s Matthew Henry’s Bible commentary on Psalm 46: “This psalm encourages us to hope and trust in God, and His power, and providence, and gracious presence with His church in the worst of times, and directs us to give Him the glory of what He has done for us and what He will do. We are taught to assure ourselves that God who has glorified his own name will glorify it yet again, and to comfort ourselves with that. We may, in singing it, apply it either to our spiritual enemies, and be more than conquerors over them, or to the public enemies of Christ’s kingdom in the world and their threatening insults, endeavoring to preserve a holy security and serenity of mind when they seem most formidable. It is said of Martin Luther that, when he heard any discouraging news, he would say, Come let us sing the forty-sixth psalm.” Amen to that!
 
There’s no question that the Lord was giving Louie the words of this song so that we could sing the words to Him in worship. I am thrilled to feature the message ‘behind the song’ which has quickly become my favorite song on the album. So many people can relate to the message of this great song, and we can also know the biblical truth from Jeremiah in Lamentations 3:22-23.
 
Remember that if God is for us, who can be against us? We raise our hands to celebrate and in surrender. We can lift up our hands in confidence to God and know that His mercy is unfailing. His love is never-ending. He is our refuge and our strength. God's ultimate will is not to bring affliction upon people, but to restore us so that we may experience His unfailing love. Amen.
 

Kevin Davis is a longtime fan of Christian music, an avid music collector and credits the message of Christian music for leading him to Christ.

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