Keep hands open to receive GodI guess it makes sense; when we are afraid, we feel vulnerable and instinctively close up so there are smaller areas to target, and the “fight or flight” instinct kicks in. We are ready to do what’s needed to protect ourselves.
By: Rev. Laura Berdahl, Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church, Castle Danger, Lake County News Chronicle
Have you ever noticed what your hands do when you are afraid?
Probably not, because you are too, well, too afraid to notice; your mind is on other, far more urgent things.
But if I picture myself afraid, part of what I see is my hands clenched into fists, closed up tight. My knuckles are white, my fingernails dig into my palms. I guess it makes sense; when we are afraid, we feel vulnerable and instinctively close up so there are smaller areas to target, and the “fight or flight” instinct kicks in. We are ready to do what’s needed to protect ourselves. Maybe we will need our fists to beat off what will try to hurt us. In those moments, it is all about us and our need to survive.
It doesn’t matter whether the threat is real or perceived, physical or not: when threatened, we close up, and we guard very tightly all that we have. Our fists are closed and we cannot give.
We are in a fearful time in our country. We are at war in a place that seems resistant to internal peace. Technology and information hurtle forward faster than we can even know what to think of them, never mind keep up with it all. Do you worry about the future of our nation, and what our children will be left with after we are gone? I do.
Perhaps most concretely for us, the economic crunch has hit hard, keeps hitting hard and it is not over yet. In such a climate, of course we are going to pull in a bit – or a lot – in order to weather a rough patch, or survive an all out attack on our financial security. It is very reasonable for us to stand with our fists clench-ed, preparing as best we can for whatever comes next. In fact, it is not only reasonable, but the responsible thing to do, as well.
Yet, as God’s children, there just might be another way.
We are not bound only to the whims and chances of life here on earth. We are already participants in the Kingdom of God. As such, we have been invited to cast our cares on the One who gives us life, who gives us each breath and each moment. We are gathered up and given rest in the arms of the one who knit us together in our mothers’ wombs. We can dare to not be afraid. We can open our fists.
And with open hands, we can reach out in generous giving. Of course, for some giving monetarily might not be very easy right now. For others, that is not so hard – different people are in different places financially. But all of us have a most precious gift that we can give – our time.
Can you give freely of your time to care for those whom God has given us as neighbors? Or is it too bound up in the pursuit of other things that can ward off fear?
I don’t know how you spend the moments God has given you. But if you are racing through them, pursuing what you think will make you safe, pause and look at your hands. Are they clenched in fear? Or are they open and generous, ready to give and receive all the wonders and joys and gifts of life, given to us by a God who loves us?
“Have no fear, little flock,” our Good Shepherd tells us. “For the Father has chosen to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32)
We can live with fists unclenched, with wide open hands, because we are children of the King.