Taking Life One Step At A Time

Taking Life One Step At  A Time

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Open Hands

God cannot fill hands that are closed. -Augustine

I recently heard this quote from a friend and I've been pondering it daily.

God cannot fill hands that are closed.

Hmm. What does that mean in my life? In what areas are my hands closed off to God's blessings? Looking back over this past year, I can see one very clear example.

We have four beautiful children. Four healthy, intelligent, vibrant youngsters who fill our days with joy. We are pouring our lives into them. And we enjoy it. We see the tremendous blessings that come with parenthood. We've noticed that as we change to be more Christ centered in our parenting, our own lives are so much better.

So, what would be so bad about God giving us a fifth child? Funny you should ask!

Our youngest will be five next month. After he was born, we agreed that four blessings was definitely enough. Society begins to look at you strangely if you have more than four, and five really didn't fit into the plan we had made when we first married. Back then we'd said three or four. So, at four it was definitely time to be done!

Except that God kept tugging at our hearts. He kept pushing at our assumptions that a smaller family was happier. That we couldn't possibly handle more than four children. That it would be too big of a financial strain to have more children. Excuses, excuses, excuses.

Closed hands.

Then, last February, Josh went to Kenya. He saw the incredible poverty there. He saw firsthand how incredibly rich and priviledged we are here in the States. He also recognized how very blessed our children are to be growing up in a household where the top priority is for them to know the Lord. To love Him with all their heart, soul, mind and strength.

So began a very long discussion between husband and wife. A discussion that included looking carefully at the lives of friends with various family sizes. A discussion that included research, insecurity, prayer, tears, disagreements and finally ...

Surrender. Open hands.

We finally realized that every reason we put forth for not wanting more children was based purely on our own selfish motives. If we have more kids, how OLD will we be when they finally leave the nest? If we have more kids, we'll feel so cramped in our house. If we have more kids, we'll afford less stuff. If we have more kids, it'll be more work. If we have more kids, we'll be back to the sleepless nights, diaper changes, potty training and spit up.

Looking at it that way, I'm surprised we ever had any kids!

But what about the flip side? If we have more kids, we'll have more wonderful lives to pour ourselves into. If we have more kids, just think of the impact our children could have for the Kingdom of God! (The Bible says that children of believers are like arrows in the hands of a warrior!) If we have more kids, we'd have more joyous experiences - more laughs, more fun, more teachable moments, more of the good kind of chaos. If we have more kids, our legacy will grow exponentially - a legacy that we pray will bring great glory to God!

Finally, we agreed to open our hands. We agreed to let God bless us with another child should he so desire. And desire he did! In our very first month with hands open, the Lord filled our outstreched palms. He has provided us with another child on the way.

And we are thrilled! Oh, yes, we're enduring a few comments of, "Another one!! Why would you want to do that?" Well, here's why:

When you open your hands to the Lord, he doesn't pour down sulfur. He doesn't fill your hands with burning coals. He rains down blessings on your life. Sometimes in the forms of trials. But always in the form of his provision and grace.

I will open my hands to the Lord. The giver of all good things. The creator, sustainer and filler of life.

Jesus said, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (John 10:10)

Remember, "God cannot fill hands that are closed." Why are your hands closed? Open them! And receive fullness of life.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Complete Abandon

Although we live in Wisconsin, we've lately had a lack of snow. A few days after Christmas we had some wonderfully warm weather that melted all but the large piles of snow leftover from shoveling.

Today, finally, we are getting some new snow. No more brown ground to look out. No more the cries of bored children desperate to play in the snow only to be met with hard mud. And no more going outdoors without boots!

After a late lunch, we asked the two older boys to head outside and clear off the driveway. Of course, the younger two couldn't bear to stay indoors either, so all four bundled up and headed out into the glorious white powder.

I watched from the front window for a few moments to make sure both boys were doing equal amounts of work and then I headed toward the back to check on the younger two. To my surprise, I saw only my youngest lying face down in the snow! I was sure something was wrong and I carefully watched his body from the window to see if he was crying. But, just as I was ready to trudge outside and check on him, I noticed a little pink tongue moving underneath his red cheeks.

There he was, sprawled out on his belly in the fresh snow, lingering over each lick of the wet, cold delicacy. Every once in a while he'd lift his head and I'd see his smile stretch from ear to ear as he enjoyed the return of winter's treat. It was as if his whole body just couldn't contain his joy!

As I sat and marveled at his complete abandon in enjoying this winter weather, I was struck with my own reserved nature. I can't remember ever once getting on my belly and licking the snow. And as I watched my son, I couldn't help but feel that I've missed out on something great all these years.

The Bible tells us of another type of abandon that is to be celebrated and desired. And that is abandon in the praise and worship of God. In 2 Samuel 6:14 it says that "David danced before the Lord with all his might." And in verse 15 it continues saying, "David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the horn."

When I think of worshiping with abandon, King David immediately comes to mind. He was not reserved in his praise of the Lord. He had seen God do incredible things and he didn't fail to give God incredible praise.

Sometimes I just want to stand up and shout about what the Lord has done. To let the world know that I serve an awesome God! But too often, I get embarrassed. I fear the response of others and I hold my praises in.

So today, I'm learning a lesson from my young son. Certain aspects of life should be enjoyed with complete abandon. Things like eating snow, showing love for others, singing and shouting praises to the King. How will you live with abandon today?