Open Hand Principle
My husband David has an message called Keeping an Open Hand. In it he describes how we are allowed to clutch our hand around two things. Those two things are 1) our relationship with God and 2) our commitment to do His will for our lives.
Everything else is to be kept in an open hand.
When you meditate on that, it exposes how we often clutch things that need to be released.
Expectations, for example, are things we need to hold loosely. If we let a dream or wish morph into a targeted goal that drives us, pushes aside competing loves, and creates an expectation that is not God’s will, we will struggle terribly if God calls on us to release it and receive what IS His will instead. Best to dream while keeping a neutral disposition. Psalm 16:11 says, “You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Fullness of joy doesn’t come from chasing my dreams; it comes from being in His presence.
Have you ever thought back to things that you prayed so fervently for that didn’t happen? I have. I remember when David was practicing law as a young new lawyer in south-eastern Pennsylvania that I prayed earnestly that we would be able to buy a large white historic house on the outskirts of town. I even made a name for it and dreamed about how we would raise our family there and use it for hospitality. It was a great dream, just not the Lord’s will for us.
That white house is just an example. What about when we pray for success, health, fame, or even the salvation of others? Our desires and requests, although seemingly right, may not be what God wants for us. Maybe He will answer our requests totally differently than what we expect, or at a very different time in our life.
Romans 8:26 and 34 mention that the Spirit and Jesus Christ both make intercession for us. I love envisioning my prayers going through that grid. I pray earnestly, but I cannot see the full picture. He can. We may not understand why He does things the way He does until glory, but we can trust that He does them well. He is sovereign and trustworthy for me, His child.
If I turn my dreams into strong expectations I will almost chronically be an unthankful person because God’s choice is so seldom what I would have chosen. But if I can yield my hopes to Him and leave my dreams at His feet, I will have no problem finding contentment and can even celebrate the path He has chosen for me.
Th(i)nkful in Simply Obeying
Nurturing my relationship with God and earnestly renewing my thoughts so I can discover His good, acceptable and perfect will for my life (Romans 12:2) can bring simple joy and contentment.
These are good truths on which I am reflecting, especially as David and I prepare to move back to South Africa to work among the Zulu. We are excited to learn the Zulu language and get acclimated to life in Amanzimtoti because God has shown us His will, and that directive trumps all other dreams and wishes.
What about you? How are you expressing your dreams to God? Is your disposition summed up in “not my will, but Yours be done?” As with gardening and athletics and most worthwhile things in life, His way is not the easy way, but it is the best. And often as we grow older and look back, we can be th(i)nkful for unanswered prayers. Our amazing God, Infinite Mind and Wisdom, has designed bigger and better plans, purposes, and pictures.
P.S. If you’re interested in a copy of David’s Keeping an Open Hand message, just email me.
2 thoughts on “Th(i)nkful That It Turned Out Differently”
It takes awhile and hard times to learn this, for selfish people like me. 😉 Seems to take awhile for others around us to learn it too – God’s “messy” plan causes people to jump to conclusions about our lives (IE Job, as mentioned by your husband) and sometimes it’s just as hard for people around us to let go of expectations, too. God has a way of refining us that’s not always as we choose. “Blessed be the name of the Lord!”
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Oh, Rebekah, I appreciate your transparency. Thank you for commenting.