by Michelle Lazurek
“He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Luke 22: 41-42
“Why do we have to move?” my seven- year- old son asked, his face full of tears. After twelve years of ministry with a church plant, we were facing our most difficult season as pastor and wife. Because our church was close to closing and our financial situation dire, we had no option but to take another job. Although this was tough on all of us, my son was particularly sensitive to the thought of moving away from his friends.
“Honey, I know this is hard. But I want you to think about it this way. So often when I’m faced with something outside of my control, I tend to keep my hands clenched tightly in a fist, resistant to hear what God has to say. But what if I kept my hands open and ready to listen? When my hands are clenched, I am saying no to God’s blessing. But when I leave them open, I am opening not just my hands but my heart.”
I took my son’s right hand in mine and opened it, placing it face up on his lap. “Practice opening your hands to God. Whenever you feel closed off to what God has for you, open up your hands and place them on your lap. I bet you’ll find your mind and heart are more receptive to God when you do this.”
As someone who struggles with fear, I often try to control my environment by carefully planning out every detail. When things don’t go according to plan, I tend to close my fists, closing myself off to Him. Even worse, when I’m going through a trial, I shake that fist in the air, angry that a good God would allow me so much pain. It is then, during my times of prayer, I physically open my hands and place them face up. My heart softens. I finally let go of my will and embrace His. The result of this process is that I learn to trust God more fully.
Here are three things I have learned by opening my hands (and heart) to God:
I become more receptive to the Holy Spirit’s influence. When I am closed off in my mind, I cannot hear Him speaking to me. His prodding is gentle for the most part: He does not force Himself on us. When I physically open my hands, my spiritual posture changes, and I am better able to hear from Him.
I receive what God has in store for me. God wants me to remain open to Him, willing to offer what I have been tightly holding as a sacrifice to Him. Very often, He has something bigger and better than what I was so reluctant to release.
I am transformed into a closer reflection of Jesus Christ. We follow in the footsteps of a suffering, obedient Savior. In the Garden, even Jesus petitioned God to spare Him from what He was about to endure. But in spite of His agony, He chose to submit Himself to the will of the Father. There’s nothing wrong with having personal desires. But in the end, we must choose to trust God when He has something else in mind.
Lord, help me to open my hands and heart to you. Amen.
About the author: Michelle S. Lazurek is an author, speaker, pastor’s wife and mother. Winner of the Golden Scroll Children’s Book of the Year, the Enduring Light Silver Medal, and the Maxwell Award, she is a member of the Christian Author’s Network and the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. Michelle is also an associate literary agent with Wordwise Media Services. For more on Michelle, please visit her website.
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Join the conversation: Are there areas of your life in which your hands are closed to God?