When I first met my pastor, he prayed over me and my husband, Matt.
The two of them had grown up together, but he didn’t know me very well, and I could tell because he specifically prayed over a ministry I was going to have one day while speaking to a crowd. I remember smiling and nodding while thinking, “You have SO got the wrong girl.”
My skeptical response was a reaction based on where I was in my walk with Jesus at the time.
You see, my salvation did not meet my expectations.
I thought that after being saved, I would wake up as a brand new person, and none of my old sins or habits would affect me anymore. Nobody told me that being freed from the penalty of my sins didn’t automatically exempt me from the temptation or pull of sin.
I had fallen into addiction at a very young age, and—after giving my life to Jesus—every time I messed up or went back to something I was supposed to be free from, I would start doubting my salvation. I thought if I was truly saved, there was no way I could do the things I was doing, so I would re-dedicate my life to Christ every time I heard an altar call because I kept thinking, “Maybe this time it will work. Maybe this time it will fix me.”
Even after I was able to break the addiction, I still wrestled with the guilt and shame that came from the decisions I had made. I thought I was going to carry those chains with me for the rest of my life, and I imagined them weighing me down as I clawed my way to the cross.
So when a pastor came along and told me all about this ministry I was going to have, I just wanted to shake my head and say, “You don’t know what I’ve done. You don’t know the things I’ve struggled with. You don’t know the choices I’ve made. You don’t know me. You’ve got the wrong girl.”
Maybe you are in the same boat.
Maybe you think that your calling is meant for someone else.
But God changed the trajectory of my testimony with a single word, and I believe He can do the same for you. For me, the word was Hallelujah.
One Sunday after our pastor taught on how each Hebrew letter shows a picture, I found out that my husband is a bit of a Hebrew geek. When we got home that afternoon, he pulled out his study materials and said, “I have to show you the word picture for Hallelujah!”
[Note that I was recently out of college at this point and the idea of studying something I wasn’t going to get graded on did not sound super appealing to me. But thankfully, I loved Matt enough to indulge him because it ended up changing the way I saw God and His grace.]
The word Hallelujah is made up of six letters (Hei, Lamed, Lamed, Vav, Yod, and Hei), and in Hebrew, you read them from right to left.
I’m not going to go into too much detail here—I recommend Letters of Light as a free tool if you want to learn more about Hebrew letters and their meanings—but here is a quick look at each letter.
- Hei: To reveal or behold the presence of God
- Lamed: A hand reaching up to Heaven to either offer or receive something
- Lamed: The second Lamed shows both hands extended in the air
- Vav: A hook that unites Heaven and earth, as well as the past, present, and future
- Yod: A hand closing on or claiming a finished work
- Hei: Again, to reveal or behold the presence of God
So when you put them all together, they mean, “to seek the presence of God with both hands raised, closing our hands around the finished work that is to be.” Or, in other words, “to take hold of the promises and finished work of Heaven and claim them through the Holy Spirit present within us.”
Now I have come back to this several times, but the first time my husband and I looked at it, the main thing I took away was the idea of pulling down Heaven and beholding or revealing the presence of God. I went away to a quiet place, and I started saying that word over and over again:
Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah.
And as I said the words, I imagined reaching up to Heaven and pulling down.
What I know now but didn’t realize then is that the definition of hei said beholding or revealing God’s presence. It didn’t say requesting God’s presence because He is already there.
I thought God was keeping His distance from me because of my past, but that’s not the nature of God. He promises that He will never leave us or forsake us, and repeating the word Hallelujah allowed me to reposition my heart and claim that promise.
Our lack of faith doesn’t push God away; it just keeps us from being able to see Him.
Every time I activated my faith and cried out Hallelujah—whether it was four times or fifty times—God always met me where I was.
And when my heart was in that “Hallelujah posture,” ready to receive from Heaven, God taught me so many things through His Word, my husband, and my pastor.
He showed me that Jesus became guilty so that I wouldn’t have to be anymore, and I didn’t have to walk around with the weight of old sins on my shoulders because my shame was nailed to the cross.
He also revealed that I should never have to claw my way to Him because my job is not to find Him; it’s to seek Him. He is always present when I set my mind and heart on Him.
“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:20
I know this is all in Scripture, but my shame was like a veil over my eyes and heart where I could read the words, but they wouldn’t sink in. The word Hallelujah ripped that veil down and let those truths settle deep in my spirit. And it was only then that I finally understood how God could use my life for His glory.
Believing you are the right person for the calling doesn’t require you to think that you’re good enough. It only requires you to trust that His grace is good enough. I was disqualifying myself because of my past—“You can’t use me. I’m the wrong girl.”—but He was saying, “Who do you think redemption is for?”
Jesus came to save sinners, not saints. The only kind of person God can’t use is the person who thinks they don’t need Him in the first place.
The word Hallelujah is a vital part of my testimony, and I am continually drawn back to it.
As I was recently studying it again, I found that in the New Testament, Hallelujah only appears in the text 4 times, and each time is in Revelation 19. It’s after the destruction of Babylon—the final defeat of the enemy—and this is what Scripture says:
“After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for his judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality, and has avenged on her the blood of his servants.” Once more they cried out, “Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up forever and ever.” And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who was seated on the throne, saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!” And from the throne came a voice saying, “Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, small and great.” Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.”
Friends, Hallelujah is the word we are going to use in Heaven, to claim the final victory.
And when we sing it now, we are anticipating the great chorus. But the Hebrew meaning of the word Hallelujah connects the past, present, and future—so not only are we anticipating the chorus, we are also participating in the great and eternal worship of Heaven.
We know that the height of our praise on earth is only a shadow of what is to come, but the story of the universe is going to end with the word Hallelujah, and we have the privilege of claiming that victory now!
I encourage you to watch the video below (one of my favorite worship songs!) and rejoice in the presence and promises of God today.