During a recent church service, a good friend asked us all to clench each of our fists as tightly as we could. As our fingernails dug into our palms, he went on….”With your fists still clenched, now imagine someone is before you, holding out a gift for you to receive. How easily can you accept what they’re offering you while your hands remain in balled fists? It’s the same with our Heavenly Father. He waits, with arms outstretched, to bless you. But, with your hands and heart tightly clenching onto circumstance, or comfort, control, that relationship, possessions, whatever it is, you make it impossible to receive what He is offering. “
My hands have been tightly fisted around so many things lately. Mainly, my daughter’s health. I keep tightening my grasp around the idea of what the future would look like without any more anesthesia, I-40 road trips to Memphis, pokes, awaited phone calls, or doctor consults.
I cling onto whatever ounce of control I think I have. I have to know everything and once I do, I run with that knowledge and try to play God with it. And I’ve exhausted myself over and over again because I wasn’t created to know it all or control it all or carry it all.
….after our hands had been clenched as tightly as we could for a few moments…”Now, unclench your fists and feel the tension leave your hands, your fingers.”
Open your hands, and feel the weighty struggle of your humanity grasping at things only God was meant to handle suddenly slip out from your grasp and then your heart quickly following after. What once was suffocatingly gnawing at your conscience is now swept away into the all-able realm of our Creator where time and circumstance and season are manipulated by His trusting hands for our ultimate good and His glory.
And then…Oh, then! Then, with hands open, your heart is truly ready to receive what He so patiently has waited to give to you! It won’t look like the comfort or security or success that you can conjure, but it is always good and it is always more of Himself. Always.
As I type this, we are driving down I-81, headed to our third St. Jude visit. Willa has another exam under anesthesia on Wednesday morning. We haven’t heard any results from her genetic testing yet. We’re also in the midst of much more waiting….
We’ve decided to stop talking about the things we’ve “wanted” to do “one day” and start doing them. So, Steven is leaving insurance in a few months and we are moving to Wake Forest, NC so that he can begin Seminary at Southeastern. Here’s my portion of the application essay, it expresses the heart behind this huge change:
Life as a believer in Jesus Christ is comprised of a collection of spiritual “seasons”, each one an opportunity for The Lord to mold our hearts to become more like His. There are seasons of comfort and contentment, when we’re thankful for His blessings, but unaware of our need for grace. During a mountaintop season, our cup overflows and we cannot contain the joy of the Lord, so our outward expression of praise to Him is undeniable. There are seasons of waiting, doubt, or of complacency, of humility, or excitement, apathy, or of unequivocal faith.
There are seasons where we are saturated with the truth of the Gospel and in constant desperation of our Savior. It’s in this particular season that Steven and I found ourselves a few months ago when our youngest daughter, Willa, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. We were flung from a place of spiritual lethargy into the capable arms of our loving Father. Our false security in possessions and circumstance was quickly ripped out from underneath us and instead we were being asked to entrust, not only our daughter’s life, but our family’s whole livelihood, to the Lord.
It was during this time of absolute faith that Steven and I began to have numerous conversations about God’s will and desire for our family and Steven’s long-lasting desire to be in seminary and eventually full time ministry. While we are already being asked to go out, in faith, into the unknown territory of childhood cancer, we feel a strong draw to continue living out faith in God’s promises in every area of our life. This means that we are not only willing, but eager to unclench our fists from the comfort here in our city that we’ve called home for many years and be thrust out into the limitless opportunity that a life lived with open hands can offer.
I know that when living in obedience, God promises more of Himself. I know that following Him is not easy, but it’s simple. I know that He is good in every circumstance and that He is faithful and steadfast in every season. I know that I am undeservingly and deeply loved by Jesus Christ and that it is only by His grace that I even exist. I know that my only true calling during my fleeting time here on earth is to proclaim His name and make known His immeasurable grace that He so lavishly pours upon us. In a very practical sense, the best way I can aid our family in that calling as Steven’s helpmeet is to encourage and support him in his desire to complete his schooling at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
During this merciful season where the pertinence of grace is constantly evident, I want to see our family, under Steven’s leadership, take a step of reckless abandonment for the glory of God.
So now…we wait. Wait for Willa’s genetic testing, wait for her EUA results every six weeks, wait for Steven to be accepted into school, wait for our home to sell, wait for the right time to leave Johnson City. And during all of this waiting, I am constantly reminding myself to open my hands to everything along the way, in that mysterious abandon, trusting that whatever He gives me will be better than anything that I try to hang onto.