Open handed faith
There are many ways to talk about faith because there are many aspects of faith, but lately I have been struck with the image of faith as an offering to God. It can be an offering of most anything (concern, circumstance, opportunity, willingness) but best case scenario it is lifted up towards God with an open hand, palm up, fingers spread wide.
This year St. Patrick’s Day fell on a Sunday- so inspired by that fact (as well as by a previously viewed Veggie Tales clip) I decided to dedicate the service on March 17th to thoughts about the life of St. Patrick. I thoroughly enjoyed the research about St. Patrick’s life (I can picture those who know me well mouthing the word “nerd” here) and I was especially struck by the aspect of open, accepting, and vulnerable faith that was exhibited in his life. I was also struck by similar traits of faith in other notable people throughout history who have lived lives of contribution to the kingdom of God.
I have written before about the idea that faith is not in what God will do, but instead faith is God CAN and GOOD. And while that discussion would address where our faith rests, this discussion is more about response of faith. Because acting in faith is also not in what God will do for me, but in merely giving it to God to do with according to his will. It seems like a minor distinction in understanding, but it is a world of difference in the application.
That is where I find the image of an open hand to be helpful in visualizing an act of faith. If there is something I have in my life (circumstance, struggle, call)- the action of that faith is in holding it out to give back to God.
The first hurdle implementing this image of faith is sometimes offering what it is that I have in hand. I can be tempted to evaluate what I have. Either to compare it and wish to have what is in someone else hand or to hold onto it, to develop it and manipulate it until I think it is ok to give out. (Excuses really like I am not talented enough, I am not ready, or if I just change it a little then give it to God then it will work out better). But the instead what if I were accept what is in my hand, no matter how undesirable or seemingly unworthy. Afterall, I can only give what I have in my hand, and I do not need to hold on to it and fix it first. God’s ability to do amazing things with what we have is not based on talent or effort, it is about giving whole heartedly to God. That seems to be where the greatest impact is made (for the kingdom at least)
Next there is an element of allowing God to take what we are lifting to him, and not attaching strings to it. And the trial of not being invested in the results seems to be a bigger struggle than the first hurdle. We are impacted by the results, but often we go into an act of faith with expectations of how God will make it turn out in the end, then we can be disappointed or irritated if those expectations are not met. But we do this when we see ourselves as the result of the faith action.
There is a cycle that happens in living faithfully. We take what we have in our hand- whatever that may be, offer it up to God. It comes back to us in some way shape or form, but not for us to hold onto. For us to lift back up again in faith, and once given back to God it may then return. Although there may be some side benefits to the owner of the open hand, it is ultimately for the furthering of God’s kingdom, not for the hand owner. That is a big difference. When we are offering faithfully with our lives and what we have to God it is not for our return, but for the return on his kingdom.
Or at least that is what I see in the similar stories of those who live faithful lives. St Patrick offered only what he had. Circumstances of being kidnapped and enslaved, willingness to follow a call that was irrational, and it was not for the purpose of his own legacy- that is merely a by product- it was for the purpose of building and increasing God’s kingdom through the people of Ireland.
And God’s power and influence to utilize those open-handed offerings to build up his kingdom is not in the talent or effort of the initial offering. Nor is it in the expectations that reside on the offering. God can do his most miraculous and mountain moving work is when acts of faith are offered up, open hand, palms up and fingers spread wide.
Meet the Pasotr
Pastor Heather and her family have been a part of the Cold Lake Community since December 2006 and she has been the pastor at Community Baptist Church since September 2017.