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with hands lifted high


We just finished eating dinner. The kids are washing dishes and doing kitchen clean- up while Joel gives Jasper a much-needed bath.  I’m sitting here in our living room taking a minute to collect my thoughts. It’s been a full day, even while quarantined on our compound. In between all the activities of the day, my mind has been processing the drastic turn of events in our world.

Sometimes Malawi feels very far away from the sobering reality of this unprecedented worldwide pandemic. Life keeps rolling along here: street vendors selling their fruits and vegetables, children running barefoot along the side of the road, car horns honking and bicycles weaving in and out of traffic. The only noticeable differences are the school closures and the shutting down of government offices. It is difficult to believe that ordinary, everyday life back home has been completely altered. And even more difficult is contemplating the helplessness I feel living an ocean away.

Several weeks ago, I sensed that God was calling me to a more intentional season of prayer. I began reflecting on the word remain once again, and recognizing the increasing desire inside of me to run away, pull out, distance my emotions and my heart from the place where God had called me.

Remain – to stay; to continue; to fulfill.

Thinking about the word remain, various interpretations of this word started coming to my mind:

Physically staying where I am – not moving.

Feet planted and not wavering.

Continuing forward in an intentional direction.

Most of the time this word expresses the choice of being present in mind and body. But as I was thinking intently on the word remain, I found myself challenged to not just remain physically where I am, but to remain in prayer and intercession.

In the New Year, I started reading through the Old Testament again. Recently, there was a story that caught my attention. It’s a story that I’ve read a million times. I’ve grown very familiar with it; I could tell the story in my sleep. Somehow, though, this time I found myself reading it with a fresh perspective.

It is the story of the battle between the Israelites and the Amalekites (Exodus 17:8-16). Moses called Joshua and instructed him to choose some of the men to go out and fight the Amalekites. Joshua did, and Moses climbed a hill with Aaron and Hur to pray over the battle. As Moses lifted his hands to the sky and prayed, Joshua and his men overpowered enemy. As soon as Moses lowered his arms, the battle would turn in favor of the Amalekites. Realizing this, Moses kept his arms stretched up to the sky. When he grew tired, Aaron and Hur stood on each side of Moses and lifted his arms up once again.

In the end, the Israelites won the battle.

Joshua was strong and mighty. He was born to conquer. This story is the first time we are introduced to Joshua, who would one day lead the Israelites into the Promised Land.

But the battle could not be won through Joshua’s fierce strength. The battle was won through prayer and intercession. Joshua’s strength, that allowed him and his men to conquer the enemy, came from the persistent and unwavering prayers of Moses.

While Moses’ hands remained lifted in prayer, Joshua was enabled to fight and win the battle.

Moses’ hands stayed lifted.

Moses continued to pray.

Through Moses’ obedience in lifting his hands and interceding for the Israelites, Joshua was able to fulfill his commission and defeat the enemy.

Little did I know when I sensed God calling me into a deeper and more intentional prayer life a few weeks ago that COVID-19 would upend the world, that our friends, family and church would be faced with so much uncertainty, that my sister would be fighting this battle on the front lines as a nurse in one of the largest hospitals in Portland, Oregon, that my parents would be sequestered in Rwanda alone, that friends and teachers here in Malawi would hasten their exit to the United States, and our children would be face-to-face with transition on top of transition. God knew. And God was preparing me.

A few things that I have been learning through all of this:

God reigns.

God’s love overrides fear.

God fights our battles, and we don’t have to lift a weapon to win.

God hears the spoken and unspoken prayers and desires of our hearts.

God provides.

God sustains.

God gives us the grace we need each and every day- His mercies are new and fresh each morning.

God’s peace is a precious gift.

God wins.

With hands lifted high, I will remain. The battle that we face will not be won through the economy, through job security, or through the healthcare system. The battle will be won through the constant and ongoing prayers and intercession offered by you and me.

Will you join me in staying and continuing in prayer to see the fulfillment of God’s purposes in all of this?

Jasper’s bath time is over. It is time to transition to jammies, stories, prayers, and bedtime songs. The older kids have shut down the kitchen and are preparing for some quiet family time. The pace is slow but deeply enriching. As we remain in this quarantine, we also remain in prayer. God is faithful.

Our hands are lifted high.

“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” Psalm 91:14-16

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2 Responses to “with hands lifted high”

  1. Lynda McIntyre says:

    Great article. Very encouraging. I enjoy your blog.

  2. Judy Hayburn says:

    Beautifully written, Amy. God is busy doing something in the world and as believers, we have the joy and privilege of serving Him in this hour.

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