The other side of open-handed living

I Iistened to my feet crunch this road on Saturday and sat in the sun and touched the leaves and took deep breaths of dry, fall air. Earlier, I had caught up with a friend and there came a point in the conversation where we both acknowledged the constant need to live open-handed — to hold our lives loosely before God, not frantically grabbing on with our fingernails to keep what we think is good in life. This is one side of open-handed living.

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Bob Goff talks about it when he mentions living “palms up” and says, “it was Jesus who taught me there was nothing I could really lose if I had Him.” Amen.

That takes a heart certain of what I have and who I am in Jesus and the humility to admit I don’t always know what I need in my life.

We always talk about open-handedness in that way, don’t we? But I think there are two sides: letting go and receiving.

What’s harder? Receiving or letting go? I would say letting go is more painful. But is it possible that receiving takes more humility?

Sometimes it’s just easier to reject a gift. I might want to feel good about myself and “earn it” on my own some other way, rather than it being given to me. I might halfheartedly receiving it, swearing to myself that I’ll pay it back (which isn’t really receiving a gift at all). I might turn my head and like a martyr declare that I don’t deserve it (if I deserved it, it would be called a prize or a paycheck, not a gift).

It can be hard to just say “Wow, thank you!”

Sometimes I look down and my hands are full — I didn’t even realized I had been given gift after gift!

And other times, receiving feels weighty and requires much humility and, of course, unadulterated gratitude. Grateful acceptance is the only good and respectful way to take a gift and honor the giver.

Kelly Belmonte writes this: “When there is such a command to take from the selfless giver, I am flummoxed. I see that other people struggle with this as well, shifting uncomfortably under the weight of an unconditional gift. Could someone really mean that there is no expectation of reciprocity? What would happen if we took them at their word? Maybe, if we allowed love its full expression, it would not be emptied of intent by our trying to even it out.”

I see my struggle to live open-handed — both receiving and letting go — with the daily, earthly, life-gifts. But I also see that I can struggle to actually receive the Lord’s love.

Ephesians 3:18 says, “And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.”

What a love, unlike any I’ve known. I need power to comprehend it! I need help to understand it! And I need hands that are spread open to receive it with a grateful, humble, overcome heart.

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