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The Year of the Open Hand
It is the start of a new year.
Six days into this new year and it has not been boring.
Already I can see the hand of God giving, leading, guiding, taking away and tenderly holding and steadying me.
Author and speaker, Ann Voskamp has written in her blog about how she names each new year. It then becomes a theme for her through the year. It seemed like a good idea. I titled 2012 "The Year of No Fear". What a year to do battle with fear. There was so much upheaval and change in my life and there were so many times I could feel the fear coming on like a chilly, damp wind, but then would come the reminder that this was the year of 'no fear', that God is the source of my strength, that He Himself goes before me, that He says again and again "Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged". There was a constant tug of war between my old habit to fear and my determination to rely upon God, the giver of strength and courage.
I liked having a focus for the year and as this year was ending I wondered about 2013. What would be a fitting theme for this coming year? The idea that seemed to permanently imprint itself into my mind was the picture of open hands. Hands that are holding everything out to God - the One who is the true owner of all the things I hold dear and try to clutch and hold tight to - hands that willingly hold everything out to God to do as He pleases. Hands that allow Him to take away, to rearrange and to rain down blessings.
When God has given me blessings, I want to hold tight to them and protect them and call them my own. My children, husband, health, finances, etc. etc. Truthfully, I cannot protect these things. What is my strength compared to the plans of God? So I want to willfully hold all things out, in an open palm before God. All is from Him and all is for Him.
While this idea is difficult for me to regularly practice, it isn't actually that difficult for me to acknowledge in my thoughts. It is relatively easy for my mind to understand and believe it is true.
What is more difficult for me to understand and believe is that God also wants to rain down blessings on His children. Like a loving father, He delights in giving good things. How can I receive the blessings of God if my hands are clutching tightly to all I call mine? How can I receive more, unless my hands are open? True, it is a vulnerable position because the things in my hand are exposed, not secure, they could easily be taken, lost or rearranged; but am I missing out if I don't open my hands?
This is the year of "The Open Hand". I want to be vulnerable before God. All I hold dear, all my dreams, desires and plans all sitting in open palms. Hands held out before me for God to do as He wills.
Six days into this year and I can see that holding my hands open before my Saviour is going to be an adventure.
January 2: My husband came home from work with a story that turned my stomach. There was an accident at work. A young co-op student was injured. A piece of wood pierced through his arm, travelling through his wrist. Who knew what the outcome would be? Would this young man lose the use of his right hand? Could surgery repair the mess that the wood surely made as it was travelling through his wrist?
I fell asleep praying for this young man; thinking about keeping my hand open. Should the accident prove to be very serious the fallout for this young man and for my husband's business would be quite complicated. It was a determined effort to keep my fingers from curling in and not commanding God to please make it all OK. It was an act of the will to pray for His will.
January 3: I greeted my husband at the door when he arrived home; eager for some news, yet afraid to hear, in case it was news that would dash my hopes. But the news was better than good. The news was fantastic. The doctor had pulled out the wood and discovered that there was no damage. He proclaimed it a miracle. Father and son came to the shop with the wood that had been removed and everyone marvelled at the fact that there were no lasting reprecussions.
My hand wants to close around all I call mine because I am afraid to trust God. Bad things happen. Things that are awful -- they occur. And yet, God displays His goodness and His kindness and His love over and over and over again.
I do not know why God allowed an accident to occur, but I know of at least one heart that is praising God for His mercy and goodness through this situation! I can't stop smiling about it and shaking my head in amazement. An accident occurred, but God's glory and power were also displayed. Praise His name!
January 6: A phone call. The year begins with loss too. This week I will go to the funeral of my grandfather. He passed away peacefully in his sleep.
He was 90 years old, his body was frail and his mind had ceased to cooperate with the present. His days were spent in a chair, he was unable to perform any tasks for himself and we do not know if he was even aware of us or his surroundings.
His passing is not a surprise and it is not entirely sad. The joy of knowing he is in heaven with His Saviour, with a sound mind and a new body, far outweighs any desire to keep him here on this earth confined to a feeble body, in a wheelchair, unable to even feed himself.
Yet, there is loss. The life of a loved one has ended. My father has lost his father. I have lost a grandfather. My children have lost a great-grandfather and all of us are confronted with the reality that life is temporary. Death is part of life and it makes all of us feel just a little uncomfortable.
Can I hold my hands open with this reminder of death looming over me? Can I remember that even in death God prevails?
Six days into this new year and my open hands have been tested. God gives, He takes away, He rearranges and He blesses. Already I have experienced the peace that comes with holding all things out to the giver. A constant shower of peace rains over me, a blessing that falls onto open hands.