I wish I could say I am a runner, but I am not. I want to be, and I was for a while, but my running hobby was short-lived. And now, six sad, not-in-a-row minutes does not a runner make.
In my running days though, I did a little research, and in addition to learning about runners’ diarrhea (I know, right?), I learned about potato chip hands.
When you are running, it is important to keep your hands mostly relaxed, and not clench them. Clenching your hands (which I did) can cause your forearms to tighten up, and then it spreads, causing tightness all the way through your shoulders, neck and head. Your tightened arms will decrease their range of motion, ultimately causing your stride length to be shorter.
To avoid this, while running you should imagine you are holding a single potato chip in each hand. You keep your hand closed to hold on to your imaginary chip, but not tightly, where you would crush it.
Good advice. “Hold on loosely, but don’t let go…” (You’re welcome).
Something tells me that God might like us to use potato chip hands on most areas of our lives.
Our money – Hold on just enough not to be irresponsible, so it doesn’t fall right out of our hands without us being aware of it (figuratively speaking). But not so tightly that we won’t be willing to help when someone needs it. Err on the side of giving too much too often rather than too little and rarely. (“Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.” Matthew 5:42)
Our time – We should hold on tight enough so as not to overfill our schedules with things that God doesn’t want us doing, whether wasting our time on things that do not matter, or doing jobs He has picked out for someone else. But not so tightly that we won’t say yes to what God is asking us to do because it isn’t what we had planned for our day. If our to-do list is a mile long, but God shifts our eyes to a need that will wreck whatever we had planned, we need to ditch that list. (“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” I Peter 4:10)
Our resources – Do we have a spare bedroom? It’s fine to have the craft room or man cave we’ve always dreamed of, but not to hold on so tightly that we won’t let go if God nudges our heart to make space for a foster kid or an aging relative. (“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27)
Ultimately, every area of our lives should be looked at like that. Jesus Himself said that we have to be willing to lose our own lives for Him before we really find life. (Matthew 16:25)
Our life really is no longer our own, and when we dive in to embracing that truth, there is a freedom and joy that can’t make any sense outside of God alone.
Some of my favorite scriptures are full of commands that will call for potato chip hands. Words telling us to help those who need it, to seek justice and give mercy. (Read them when you get a minute – they are 3 of my top 5 favorites – Micah 6:8, Matthew 25:31-40, and Isaiah 58:6-9a).
So join me in loosening our grip, so we can keep a productive stride in our relationship with Christ, making progress for God’s kingdom.