Years ago, I observed a dear friend of mine doing something during a praise and worship event that intrigued me. It was not unusual to see her raise her hands and express her exaltation to the Lord, but it was the intentional gesture of her hands that caught my eye. With palms up and open and arms extending forward, she sang. I looked around thinking I maybe had missed the communion tray! Following the service, I asked her about it. She responded, “I wanted to receive all that God has for me!” Wow. Do I come to my Heavenly Father with expectancy to receive from him like that? I remember my first question about doing that was, “Doesn’t that just make me a selfish child to always have my hand out asking for gifts and favor? “
That experience led me to ponder about my relationship with God. And being a mom, I can now better understand his love for me, as his child. My love and desire to bless my children with gifts and good things is not dependent on their obedience, but on my unconditional love for them. Yes, I reward them for being responsible and finishing tasks I give them to do. But those are not ‘free gifts.’ They earned them. As much as I delight in rewarding them, I also love giving them grace gifts- those which are given straight from the heart and motivated by my unconditional love, not as a payment.
I believe God also delights in blessing his children with grace gifts.
3 ‘Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.’ (Ephesians 1:3-10)
I am so thankful for every gift that God has given me through His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus IS the gift that keeps on giving. We were given everything we need at the time we received salvation. Now, as believers and followers of Christ, we spend the rest of our lives into eternity unwrapping, discovering, using and enjoying this amazing gift of grace in all of it’s beauty and power!
‘His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.’ (2 Peter 1:4)
‘Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.’ (I Thess 5:16-18)
Here’s a second thing about open hands I’ve learned. Sometimes the burdens of life we hold in our small hands really weigh us down and hurt us. We try to carry around those things that feel like sharp, jagged pieces of shrapnel. But Jesus tells us to cast our burdens onto him because he cares for us. So friend, open your fingers and let the broken pieces fall into his hands and trust him to heal you and do with the shapnel what he sees fit. The deadly ammunition that the enemy shoots at us can be transformed into the very thing that our sovereign Lord wants to use in his plan to teach us and use against the enemy. It’s our choice- will we put our troubles in God’s hands or in the enemy’s hands? Trust God! He is in control and all things are under his authority.
‘Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.’ (I Peter 5:7-NLT)
One of my continual ‘heart checks’ is that I continue to worship the Giver and not the gifts. And I know that He can give and take away for my good, and his love for me never fails. I intentionally try to keep an open hand before Him- to receive what He wants me to receive and release the things He wants me to release. It is very freeing!
Open your hands to your Heavenly Father and be freed, be healed, be blessed and be transformed.
*** Special thanks to Pat and Ryan for being my hand models!