When Dave and I were preparing to celebrate three years of marriage, I had wanted to write this post.
It was going to be a charge for us to take a big bite out of life. But something about the timing didn’t feel right. I was also hard at work on the book and couldn’t afford any distractions so I shelved it. And well, life happened. And every time I looked at my recent drafts section, I wondered what I’d write about it. I wondered where I’d start. I felt the same way with the book by the way, but I somehow finished it. Glory!
Recently, Dave and I were talking on Saturday about many things, but the essence was having an open hand. I was telling him that one of the greatest lessons that I’ve learned this year is living life open handed no matter what comes. It’s not rocket science, but to receive, your hand has to be open. We can’t keep our hands closed because we’re afraid what we have will be taken. A closed fist cannot hold beyond what it already has. We must loosen our firm grip and open our hands upward (when you’re being given something), or downward (when you need to take).
It’s the loosening our grip part that we’re bad at. We like to hold, and hide, and clutch for dear life at what we have because sometimes, we’re not persuaded that more will come. I totally understand this.
As I thought about the metaphor of an open hand, I kept thinking about Elijah.
“God then told Elijah, “Get out of here, and fast. Head east and hide out at the Kerith Ravine on the other side of the Jordan River. You can drink fresh water from the brook; I’ve ordered the ravens to feed you.” Elijah obeyed God’s orders. He went and camped in the Kerith canyon on the other side of the Jordan. And sure enough, ravens brought him his meals, both breakfast and supper, and he drank from the brook.” 1 Kings 17:2-6 MSG
I found myself thinking about this scripture when I considered a picnic on a hot, sunny day on an open grassy field or by the poolside. In this part of my world, hawks will make a play for your food. Many a times have I gotten scratched and lost a greater chunk of my sausage or chicken as they swooped in and grabbed what was on my plate or in my hand. It still sucks now, when that happens, but as a kid having lunch post-swim, the feeling is exponentially awful!
Maybe that’s why we hold on tighter to what we’ve got. But when I considered the hawks that steal from us on our rest days, I remembered that even God can command scavengers, known to steal, to feed you. And it calmed me.
Open hands will never lack room to receive.
Open hands will never live in the fear of being taken from because their hands will not be empty far too long.
Open hands are filled because emptiness will always be a magnet for filling.
“Eventually the brook dried up because of the drought. Then God spoke to him: “Get up and go to Zarephath in Sidon and live there. I’ve instructed a woman who lives there, a widow, to feed you.” So he got up and went to Zarephath. As he came to the entrance of the village he met a woman, a widow, gathering firewood. He asked her, “Please, would you bring me a little water in a jug? I need a drink.” As she went to get it, he called out, “And while you’re at it, would you bring me something to eat?” She said, “I swear, as surely as your God lives, I don’t have so much as a biscuit. I have a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a bottle; you found me scratching together just enough firewood to make a last meal for my son and me. After we eat it, we’ll die.” Elijah said to her, “Don’t worry about a thing. Go ahead and do what you’ve said. But first make a small biscuit for me and bring it back here. Then go ahead and make a meal from what’s left for you and your son. This is the word of the God of Israel: ‘The jar of flour will not run out and the bottle of oil will not become empty before God sends rain on the land and ends this drought.’” And she went right off and did it, did just as Elijah asked. And it turned out as he said—daily food for her and her family. The jar of meal didn’t run out and the bottle of oil didn’t become empty: God’s promise fulfilled to the letter, exactly as Elijah had delivered it!“ 1 Kings 17:7-16 MSG
And maybe one of the subtle lessons that God wanted us to get was to never worry how He feeds us or gives to us. That we shouldn’t be afraid of nothing because it’s the start of something.That the pangs that ache us signal an arrival. Click To Tweet
Even Hagar showed us that. When God told Abraham to send her and Ishamel off and they ran out of food and water in the wilderness, when she was ready to die, God opened her eyes to a well that was probably blind to her when her need was satisfied. Sometimes, our needs show us what’s already there, what’s already given.
Maybe God’s point was for us to realize that yes, the birds of the air may steal from you sometimes, but even they must harken and feed you should He order them to. So maybe we never really lose when we live open handed. Maybe we get a story. Maybe we find ourselves set on a journey. And maybe that loss or emptiness that eats us up is the signal for our miracle or breakthrough.
So perhaps, all along, I was onto something. Maybe I needed to live through it to really see it. And the picture for this post is the reason why. On our wedding day as Dave and I cut the cake, my cousin made a mad dash toward us (along with my other younger cousin) and without pause, fear or hesitation, he closed his eyes and opened his mouth sure that I would give him a piece of cake. And I did. He and my other cousin saw Dave and I feeding each other cake and they didn’t want to miss out on the action. And my God was it beautiful! That sense of trust. That sense of belief that they wouldn’t miss out. Truly, the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
I don’t think that was a coincidence. Looking back, I think it was God’s way of reminding Dave and I to open our mouths and take a big bite out of life, out of what He puts before us. A reminder to open our hands to receive. Because sometimes, the bitter things are sweet, and the hard things are a beautiful bruising, far worth it in the end. I’m still trusting God for the right words to share more on that last part but I’m slowly gaining new sight and fragrance on it.
With our three and a half year mark of marriage fast approaching, I’m reminding myself to keep my palms open and my mouth ready to receive whatever He gives. It’s always good. Whether I see it through glassy, tearful eyes or a clarity that comes long after the experience, every bitter thing will be sweet, and every ash will bring forth beauty. It’s always good.