Open Hands

I’ve always thought of open hands as being an indication that we are ready to receive. I was taught to go up to receive Holy Communion with my hands cupped and open, my right under my left, like a throne ready to receive God’s body.

And I’ve seen open hands used in worship as an act of surrender, or in the commissioning or ordination of someone, that they are ready to give up their life for what God has planned for them. They have open hands to give up their own hopes and plans so that they might receives God’s hopes and plans for them.

But what if surrender is more than that. What if opening our hands is also about releasing our fears… What then might our hands be ready to receive?

I love the lyrics that Laura Story writes. I’ve recently discovered a new song she’s written called Open Hands.

Take it all – every hope, every dream, every plan.
Take it all – every weight, all the shame and brokenness.
Jesus, I surrender all – every victory and loss
Take it all, take it all ’till all I have is open hands.

What would it mean if when we surrendered we surrendered more of ourselves than just our own hopes, dreams and plans? What would it look like to also surrender our insecurities, our fears, our brokenness? What would be left of us then?

Parker Palmer, in his book ‘Let Your Life Speak’, wrote, “One of the most painful discoveries I made in the midst of the dark woods of depression was that a part of me wanted to stay depressed. As long as I clung to this living death, life became easier; little was expected of me.”

Is there maybe a fear in us of what might actually happen if we hand over the doubts that we aren’t good enough? A fear of what plans God might put into our open hands if they were truly empty? Maybe there is a part of us that likes the doubts, because we can use them as excuses.

Instead, this is God’s cry to us…

A clenching fist, a life of fear,
A burden held, has no place here
Cause You call me now to cast it all
On the shoulders of the one who’s strong.

When he asks us to surrender to him, he’s asking for it all, both what we consider the good and what we consider the bad. God’s asking us to remember that he’s told us that his grace is enough and his power works best in weakness (2 Cor 12:9), but he needs us to be willing to open up the clenching fist that’s around that weakness and let him work through it.

I wonder whether it might actually be liberating to surrender it all, every hope, every dream, every plan…every weight, all the shame and brokenness. To truly be present to God with open hands, unafraid of what we’ll lose and ready to receive whatever it is he has planned.

I pray that this these will be my thoughts, the next time I open my hands…

Take it all – every hope, every dream, every plan.
Take it all – every weight, all the shame and brokenness.
Jesus, I surrender all – every victory and loss
Take it all, take it all ’till all I have is open hands.
I’m not afraid of what I lose; my greatest joy is finding You

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