With Open Hands

Last week as I held and prayed for my favorite Daniel, who was in the hospital with a mystery illness, God reminded me of something I’ve been pondering a lot since we returned to the field-living our lives with open hands. I could absolutely hold my little mister in my arms, but his life needed to be held in God’s hands. I can care for him and pray for him, but ultimately what happens with his life is up to God.  It’s true of our whole family-our lives are not, cannot, be in our hands; they must be in God’s. Our. Lives. Must. Be. In. God’s. Hands.

We’ve become much more comfortable with our own mortality and that of our children. Some people might see that as callous or untrusting. We know what the world we live in is like. We know what the medical care is like. We know how lacking the response is with emergency services.  We also know God is sovereign and what will be, will be.

My first major opportunity to open my hands wide was when I sent Toffer off to Nepal just a few days after the earthquake. I was never more proud, more excited, nor more terrified to put him on a plane.  I did not know how the trip may change him, or even possibly if he would not return.  We knew in all likelihood he’d come back, but the situation was a little volatile and going to Nepal is dangerous even without strong aftershocks.  He went twice more after that and God saw fit to return him in generally the same condition that he left.  He was there to shine Light when it felt very dark. He. Shined. Light.

Our summer was spent paying WAY more attention to the political situation in multiple countries across the region than seems normal in any circumstance. When it impacts our work, and possibly where we live, we pay a bit of attention.  And we get to have the super fun “What Do We Do If We Have to Leave Quickly” conversation. When said political situations change backup plans, those conversations happen occasionally and bring up a weird set of emotions. We have to hold where we live, how we work, where we work, and so much more with open hands knowing that shifts in each country affect us differently. We were once again reminded that we could just have to walk away. We. Could. Just. Have. To. Walk. Away.

And then what? I don’t know. We spent 10 months last year being nomads with nice digs holding where we would be living with open hands. On Good Friday, with water streaming down the wall and stairs due to busted pipes, we got the email saying we were approved for visas to continue living where we have been living. Those ten months were crazy and stressful, but we knew that God’s plan was better than ours, even if it wasn’t what we wanted.  Whatever God was going to bring our way was best. God’s. Plan. Was. Best.

We have learned that living with open hands and following God’s path can bring great grief, pain, sorrow, and heartache.  God’s path is not easy nor safe.  Oh, but it is rich and beautiful and full of amazing people and things to eat and places to go.  We are surprised, frequently, with good things (so glad we tried Char Kway Teow-yum) and bad things (mice-ew!), but never bored.

We live this extraordinary life and the more we get to see God move and be part of His story, the more we want to stay, the more we want to grow, the more we want to be open so we can go and do and be and eat (food is an important part of our culture). Yes, it means we’ve had kids hospitalized four times while we’ve lived here. But, hey, we made it almost six months back on the field before it happened this time. And God used us. God. Used. Us.

He brought about a conversation between me and our non-believing pediatrician that I’m not sure I could have had any other way. So while it was stressful and uncomfortable and exhausting, it was worth being there at the right time with the right words to speak truth to someone who needed to hear it. And it didn’t hurt that a couple nurses, one who is definitely of a different faith than ours, heard the whole conversation.  The. Whole. Conversation.

To some that might seem like nothing, but these three women may never have witnessed God working like they did that day and have someone point it out.  God was undeniably in that room for those few short minutes. Had we given up years ago and packed it all in, we would have missed the chance to be part of it. God would have worked whether we followed the path He wanted us on or not, but we would have missed out on getting to be part of it. We. Would. Have. Missed. Out.

I don’t want to miss out on God working. I don’t want to miss out on seeing His hand moving, however slightly and gently.  I want to be privy to His work and see with His eyes the world around me.  I cannot hold my life or anything in it too tightly, for in doing that I can’t cling as tightly to Him.  I have to hold my life with open hands and hold on to Him for this wild ride. Hold. On. With. Open. Hands.