Tag Archives: obedience

Potato chip hands

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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.

10 sentences

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I need details.

If you ask me to do something, I am going to ask you 347 different questions to be sure I fully understand and am on board.

I remember when I joined a small group of ladies who gathered weekly to focus on praying for our husbands – as we finished with introductions and small talk, we were about to pray. This being our first meeting, I needed specifics, so I asked. “Are we going to pray out loud?” “Are we all going to pray at the same time?” “Will we take turns going around the circle?” “How will we know the other person is finished?” “Who is going to cover which prayer requests?” “Will we each cover all of them, or each person take someone else’s?”

I didn’t want surprises, or uncomfortable situations. I wanted to be prepared.

While I don’t think that’s always a bad thing, there are times when God just wants to lead us, and keep some of the details from us until we are ready. And I should be fine with that, but I’m not.

I’ve been reading a lot about Christ’s birth the last couple of weeks. In Luke chapter 1, Mary is visited by the angel Gabriel, starting in verse 26.

Nevermind that I can’t wrap my mind around what it must have been like to get a message from an actual angel, I am sure I couldn’t have handled it as calmly as Mary did.

Gabriel shows up, and after only 10 sentences, Mary is signing on the dotted line.

“Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting his might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” “How can this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.” 

Ten sentences, with very few direct details, and that’s all she gets. But that seems to be all she needs. Her response is highlighted in hot pink in my Bible, reminding me to learn from her. Mary asked one question, and then here is her answer to Gabriel-

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. May it be to me as you have said.” 

I want the faith and obedience of Mary. If I feel God nudging my heart to go/do/say, I want to say what she said. Instead, I am likely to say, “Are you sure?” “When?” “How?” “What if…?”

I’ve got a lengthy list of questions I would want to ask if I was in her shoes, but she doesn’t ask them. She trusts the God of the universe to take care of her and work out all the details, knowing He will provide.

If you are like me, and want all the details of the task or calling God has given you, decide with me to change. The next time we feel God saying, “Here is your next assignment,” we will say to Him, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.”

“But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.'”  – Psalm 31:14

12/25/2014