Get a grip. When life seems out of control and topsy-turvy, that’s what we do. When emotions begin to overshadow reality, that’s what we do. When we lose sight of our focus, that’s what we do. When we feel like we’re losing the most important things around us, that’s what we do. We take a firm grasp and wrestle to keep control. We fix our eyes on the very thing that seems to be fading away and fight to keep focus.
Does it work? Do we regain our hold? In the physical sense, oftentimes, yes. But there are times that it doesn’t. Times when holding tightly actually kills the very thing we are gripping.
About a year ago I read “One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are” by Ann Voskamp. Aside from the obvious challenge set out in the title, the book offered me several other personal challenges, including trusting at a deeper level.
It’s easy to trust for some things – the stove will heat when turned on, a light will shine when a switch is flipped, a chair will hold when sat upon. But other things are more difficult to trust – a stranger to keep his word, a new recipe to work out perfectly, a sunny winter day in Seattle. But what about our relationship with God – what is your level of trust?
I have an easy time trusting my family and friends to do what they promise. We have history and they’ve proven themselves in ways that I can see and recount. Although I trust God to do what He promises, I have a more difficult time. There is a catch in my natural self that second-guesses His follow-through because I can’t see, touch or smell Him. The times when prayer wasn’t answered the way I anticipated were the times when God answered a different way. Trust wasn’t broken, but it was tested…and the fault is only my own for expecting God to do things the way I planned. It’s those moments when I remember that God is in control and to get a grip.
In “One Thousand Gifts” Voskamp writes: “All these years, these angers, these hardenings, this desire to control, I had thought I had to snap the hand closed to shield joy’s fragile flame from the blasts. In a storm of struggles, I had tried to control the elements, clasp the fist tight so as to protect self and happiness. But palms curled into protective fists fill with darkness….My one wild desire to protect my joy at all costs is the exact force that kills my joy….
“The secret of joy’s flame: Humbly let go. Let go of trying to do, let go of trying to control…let go of my own way, let go of my own fears. Let God blow His wind, His trials, oxygen for joy’s fire. Leave the hand open and be. Be at peace. Bend the knee and be small and let God give what God chooses to give because He only gives love.”
It’s difficult to hold on to sand. The more we tighten our grip, the more it slides out from between our fingers. In order to keep it in our hands we are forced to turn our palms upward and keep them open. We must become comfortable with the balance between an open hand that can hold the sand, but that can also lose it. We must trust. It’s like our relationship with God: we must keep our hands open to receive what He is giving, but trust Him enough that if what we are holding is taken away that it is only to give us something better.
As I journey through life – professionally, relationally, spiritually – with an open hand, I find that my grasp is stronger. What do you need to release so that you can get a grip?