Friday, June 1, 2012

Open Hands

Living life with open hands.

That is what has been on my heart lately.

Three weeks after the yard sale, I am still in awe of how God moved in response to our feeble efforts to obey Him.  And I am still in purge mode.  There wasn't nearly enough time to sort though all the excess in our home before the sale.  Bags of items have left the house this week and last, and there is so much more to sort.  It is frustrating and it is freeing.  I do not want to live a life encumbered by stuff.  I am convinced that God is calling our family to simplify, to trust Him for our needs, to give and share all that He has given us.  To live with our hands and our hearts open wide to Him.

Certainly the concept of living with open hands applies to our material possessions.  I am working through that slowly but surely.  However, as I have contemplated this notion of "open hands," I realize that while it is about material possessions, it's not only about material possessions.  God wants us to offer everything in this life that we cherish to Him with open hands.  That encompasses many things, including the people we love.

So while I'm still picking and poking through all our stuff   (almost ready to give it all away all away at this point)  I feel this gentle nudge, "Will you give me them, too?"


I shared a few days ago that my oldest daughter is preparing to graduate, and about her plans to attend school in Colorado this fall, and her desire to return to Haiti as a missionary.  These decisions were not impulsive;  they are the product of much thought, prayer and discussion.  She has asked me many times what I thought she should do, and it would be dishonest if I didn't admit that at least sometimes I was tempted to encourage her to stay home, stay safe, stay with the familiar--not because I think that is where God wants her, but because that is where I want her. But God has helped me to loosen my fingers, open my hands and let Him have her future.  She belongs to Him, not to me.  And as much as I love her, He loves her ever so much more.

My brother deployed to Afghanistan in April.  This is not his first deployment, but it is always hard to see him go.  When people ask, as they often do, if I worry about him, my answer has been pretty much the same...along the lines of "God is God in Afghanistan, just like He is in America.  Not one of us is promised another day no matter where we are or what we are doing. He is in the palm of God's hand no matter where he is. Nothing can happen to him that doesn't pass through God first. "  A good answer, and I meant it.  For real.  And then something happened to him.  Our family received word that my brother had been injured in an explosion.  By God's grace and mercy, his injuries are such that he should make a full recovery, but in those first moments , my instinct was to clench my hands, and to grasp for control of what I could not possibly control. But almost immediately after that, I sensed God moving me to let go, to trust Him with my brother's future...whatever that might mean.  Because my brother belongs to God, and as much as I love him, God loves him ever so much more.

Yesterday a dear friend posted a status on facebook that made me cry for her and made me cry for me again.  She had to say goodbye to a young woman who has been in her home for two years, who she has loved and cared for like her own, and who is now leaving a a hole in their family and a hole in her heart.  My heart aches for my friend as she watches with hope and concern as this beloved daughter-of-her-heart charts her own course.  And it broke my heart all over again for the one who shared a place in our home and family some years ago, and who still holds a large place in my heart and my prayers.  I remember well the pain when he left, and the fear I felt over his future.  I have cheered his successes, but more often  agonized over destructive choices, grieved over lost relationship and spent far too many days filled with  anxiety and worry, my hands in white-knuckled fists as I desperately wanted to fix, to manipulate, to control...when all the time I am being called to let go.    His time in our family was a gift to us, but he wasn't given to me to keep.  He belongs to his Creator, not to me.  I cannot finish writing his story, only his Creator can, and I must trust that His ending will be so much better than I am able to imagine.  So I open my trembling hands, and give him over to the One who loves him ever so much more than I do.

And, as we serve three families this week who are f saying their final goodbyes in this life to ones they loved so dearly, I am reflecting on those in my life whom I love.  I am grateful for the blessings that they are to me, but I know they are not truly mine.  I want to learn to hold them close to my heart, but with open hands; trusting them to our good and gracious Lord, who loves them ever so much more than I ever could.

1 comment:

Susan Scott said...

Thank you for this Erin. I am also learning to open my hands and give things to God. As I release my grip I noticed that God is able to put things into my hands as well. When I had them clinched trying to control Not only was I not letting anything out, I was not allowing anything in. Thank you for your thoughts. I have struggled a lot with letting God have complete control and your words encouraged me.