This was a recent guest post on my friend Emma Mason’s blog (link here). Thought I would share with you all too! Merry Christmas Eve!
A few weeks ago, while decorating the house for Christmas, I came across our nativity scenes. We have two and they both make me super happy because they are both so special. One was a gift from my parents many years ago and the other belonged to my paternal grandmother.
Unfortunately, one nativity scene has several pieces that have broken over the years- baby Jesus’ hand, Mary’s hand and this year, I noticed Joseph’s hand was somehow knocked off. The other nativity scene was in pristine condition as I carefully pulled it from the box then WHAM! I clanked the pieces together and off fell Mary’s left hand. UGH.
As I glued the hand back on I couldn’t help but think of the position of Mary’s hands reflecting the position of her heart. Both hands in this figurine are open to Jesus. Yes, she is His mother, but before God even opened her womb she had opened her hands and heart to Him.
I’m reminded of her response to Gabriel, the angel who tells her of the supernatural pregnancy she will soon experience:
“’I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary said. “May it be done to me according to your word.’” Luke 1:38
Now let’s just stop for a minute and put ourselves in her shoes- I think I might have laughed like Sarai did in the Old Testament if an angel had come to me and told me the news that I would be carrying God’s One and Only Son. The Word, God in human form…the One that was promised long ago to be our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God and Prince of Peace. The One everyone had been waiting on. I also think I would be very, very afraid of what was to come and what others would think.
But Mary, having open hands, child-like faith and an obedient, willing heart humbly responded to the angel, “OK, whatever you say.”
I mean, wow.
Maybe that’s why He chose her…But honestly, if we are children of God, we are all chosen to have open hands and open hearts to whatever He has for our lives, right?
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel my hands are clenched tightly. I lay in bed at night and must consciously relax and open my hands. It seems they have developed a need to retreat to a position of being closed. Has my heart assumed this position too? Maybe my hands are closed because I’m tense or anxious and that’s where it all goes, maybe because I have a phone in my hand so much of the day my hands just assume that position, or maybe it’s my age- I did turn 40 this year? Who knows… but it’s something I must continually do and have become very aware of. Open my hands, stretch out my fingers. Keep my hands open.
Back to my heart- shouldn’t I practice this same exercise here too? Each day wake up and stretch open my heart to the Lord. His ways, His words, His voice and His plans for my life…even and especially if they look different than what I had planned. Keep my heart open.
I’m fairly certain carrying baby Jesus and giving birth to the One who would save people from their sins was not what Mary or Joseph had in mind as they were beginning their relationship. And surely, they had no idea what his life would entail- the criticism, ridicule and His brutal death. And yet, they were the Lord’s servants. Open hearts and open hands to do His will.
Somedays my hands and heart are humbly open to the Lord…other days, they are closed tightly around the things I hold dear and my heart seems shut down and far from him…which begs the question-what truth about God am I not believing?
As I type this, tears are brewing in my eyes because I know what often holds me back- I don’t know what’s next.
But neither did Mary. Neither did Abraham as he walked his only son Isaac up the mountain to the altar. When I think of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane as a grown man begging God to take the cup from Him because He knew what was coming yet He still humbly responded with an open heart and hands, “…not my will but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42).
With my fists clenched and heart closed off I’m not believing that His ways or plans are good, or that no matter what’s around the corner, He is good still and can bring good from any situation. I’m not believing He truly loves me.
I can’t control people or circumstances, so my hands and heart assume a closed-off position while holding tightly to what I can because I know that sometimes our biggest fears come true. Sometimes people hurt others, babies die before they even breathe a breath and we cannot make sense of the tragedies we see or experience. BUT- I cannot look to or think about these things more than I look to, think about and believe the truths about God. His promises for good, to be our comfort, for peace and joy, the promise of HEAVEN. The promise and help of His Spirit when bad times come, the promise that His character is ALWAYS GOOD and even though this world is often hard, and disaster comes, HE CAN BE TRUSTED to bring good. Somehow, someway. IF we look to Him for help with open hands and hearts.
Keep my hands open. Keep my heart open.
Our 7-year-old son has placed two gifts in his stocking- one for Santa and one for Jesus. How sweet that he is giving something to Jesus this year for His birthday. I mean, we do leave Santa and his reindeer cookies and milk, right? Of course, we should give something to the Lord as we celebrate His birth.
I want to end this post asking, what will we give Jesus this year? What gift can we give Him? Can we give Him our clenched fists, so he can open them? Can we give Him our broken hands, so He can heal them? Can we give Him our whole hearts today and every day? Can we truly say, “I am Your servant…Your will not mine”?
I think we can. After all, with God all things are possible.
Lord, thank You for Your Word filled with many promises we can cling to. Thank you for the many humble, broken people in the 66 books of the Bible that can teach us how to open our hearts and hands to You. Forgive us when we don’t trust You or when we question Your will or ways. Help us get to a place of surrender. Keep our hands and hearts open to You for salvation, Your Spirit, guidance, comfort, peace, joy, grace and to be used by You. May we gift you our hearts and hands this Christmas. May our eyes see you and look to you, not our circumstance or what if’s. If we are going to clench our fists may it be because we are holding tightly to You and the promises of You. The now and always of You- You are a good God, You love us, Your ways are good, and we can trust You. Happy Birthday, our Savior and King. May Your will be done. In Your mighty saving name, I pray, Amen.