Closed Fists ... Open Hands

All of us face some moments when we want what we want, more than what God wants. Friend Donna Fagerstrom shares an image that helped her move forward to embrace what God has ... even when she doesn't want to.


Closed Fists ... Open Hands

By Donna Fagerstrom

Recently I was pondering how I approach God. Do I go to him with an open hand or a clenched fist?

That word picture made me think of the sport of boxing. Before boxing gloves were invented, opponents would face each other with leather straps on tightfisted bare hands.

I confess, at times, my opponent has been God. I have been guilty of lifting my fists as if I were boxing with God. And while my fist flayed in the air, it was really my heart that had become a hard, tight fist.

After 31 years of pastoral ministry, my husband and I were serving a church planting movement in Florida. We lived in our "dream home." Then, God unexpectedly called us to Texas. What? Sell the house? Leave a thriving ministry? Leave deep friendships? Abort long range plans ... all the way to retirement? Yes, my fist (heart) was clenched tight, and directed to the God of interruptions and detours.

Two years later I admit, my hand is still formed in a bit of a fist. Honestly, I shook my fist at God through all the changes, loss of friends and having to find my place, alone, in this new land called the Lone Star State. Deep friendships are far away, including our only daughter and her two daughters. "Just let go?" It is hard ... very hard. God, please pry one finger at a time.

The hands of Jesus were that of a carpenter, worn and torn. Yet, in his own detours and disappointments, he opened his sun-bleached fingers and reached out to little children who were not afraid of his touch. Those calloused scarred hands healed the sick, restored sight to the blind, cast out demons, broke bread on the night he was betrayed, and were nailed to a cross by Roman soldiers. God, use my hands redemptively; release my hard grip.

As I approach the Father, right now, I want to have hands that are open and lifted-up in prayer and praise. I want wide fingers and palms that express his glory. I also want hands that reach out to other people. When open, my hands can prepare a meal, clean another's house, or do the laundry of someone who cannot right now. God remind me that my hands are a gift from you to use for you.

As I look at my hands, they are rather small! I see some dreaded age spots. The calluses are pronounced from hard work. But, right now, they are not clenched in an angry, mean fist. Thank you, God!

Time for you to let go too? I did it just one finger at a time. Asking God to pry with prayer. To slowly release the tight grip. Release. Take a breath. I acknowledged that my hands were not mine alone, but belonged to God. And he promises that his hand holds us in the process:

If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. (Psalm 139:9-10)

Donna Fagerstrom has spent a life of ministry in music, worship and discipleship - serving for over 40 years, mostly in pastoral ministries. She recently wrote a 60-day devotional for those who have gone through loss - Every Mourning. In addition, she has contributed numerous devotionals and her work appears in eight books. In 2010 Donna received "The Woman of Influence Award" from Cornerstone University. Her family, friends and prayer are the loves of her life.

© Elisa Morgan 2020

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