It was an earnest moment of decision for my preschool-aged daughter. You could see the deliberation on her sweet little face as she tightly gripped the Andes Mints, one in each hand.
If you will give ONE of your chocolates to Pa, I will give you another one.
I knew this might be a struggle for her and was watching with anticipation to see what decision she would make.
She loves chocolate candy so much, and this particular kind was only available to her once per week when we would meet my dad (her grandad) for lunch at our favorite local Mexican restaurant.
I could see she was internally wrestling with the process of physically letting go of what was in her hand. Did she believe me? Would she trust me?
I repeated it again: If you will give one to Pa, I will give you another one to replace the one that you give to him.
It was a promise. But it required her action to activate it. You see, she had to let go of the piece of chocolate in one of her hands, before I could give her another one.
This was a practical request. There was no way her little hands could hold 3 pieces of candy, navigate a pass off, open the wrappers and avoid dropping one onto the floor. With the crowd of people in front of the cashier’s desk, the candy could easily be stepped on and smashed.
After a few more seconds of consideration, she handed a piece to my dad, saying, “Here, Pa, this is for you.” I smiled, knowing that this had been an important step for her.
Before the smile faded from my face, I felt the Holy Spirit impress a feeling of even greater significance upon my heart. I knew I needed to remember this exchange, and I wrote it down in my journal, trusting the Lord would eventually show me.
A few weeks passed, and I had just learned of yet another major change coming my way. The grief, anxiety and sorrow welled up in me anew.
Over the last 18 months, almost all the things in which I had found purpose, comfort and stability (with the exception of my husband and children) had been ended, altered, or shifted in some way. A career. A ministry role. A few friendships. Educational plans for my youngest daughter. And on and on.
Honestly, I was so sick of change and felt like I really couldn’t take any more. I was just done. Over it. Finished. Seriously kaput.
Lord, seriously? I was just getting into the groove. I thought we had a plan. Lord, what ARE you doing in this situation? What does this mean for me? I hate this. Really, I hate this. Can’t you just keep things the way they are, at least for a little while?
The next morning I was struggling through my quiet time trying to read through a chapter in one of the Minor Prophets of the Old Testament, Hosea. I was finding it a bit dry, which was also how my soul felt in that moment. This is what I wrote in my journal that morning:
“Father God, help me have a God-attitude about the news I received yesterday. I’m struggling and so sad, but most of all, I feel thrown out into The Wilderness, again. God help me, help me to find joy and hope overflowing in this. Release your blessings on my life… Make a way for me in the desert. Bring me to a land of flowing streams, lush landscapes, soft hills, and babbling brooks.”
Later that day, I was still wrestling through what all of this meant and feeling gloomy. While driving in my car, I heard these lyrics from a song in the general playlist of music on my phone.
I am counting every blessing, counting every blessing
Letting go and trusting when I cannot see
I am counting every blessing, counting every blessing
Surely every season you are good to me.[i]
These words that I’d heard so many times before struck me with such significance. Letting go. To let go, you have to open your hand. It was like the Spirit was saying this:
Jennifer, if you’ll open your hand again, you’ll see that I’m good to you in every season. Let go of what you cannot keep. Give it freely, so that I can give you the next blessing.
Oh wow. The wisdom in this.
It was a promise. And just like with the Andes Mint moment, it required my action to activate it. You see, I would have to emotionally release what was in my hand. I would need to give it to my Abba Daddy, and with faith and trust, believe He would fill my hand again with something good. I had to believe that He would fill it with something that was valuable and cherished, with something I would relish and enjoy.
Jim Elliot penned this now famous phrase, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
Maybe, like me, you are facing another period of transition. Do you feel the stirrings of change? Is the Lord asking you to relinquish something? Is He asking you to hand over something that’s of high value in your life? An opportunity that may not come again? A ministry position or job you really love? The future you thought you would have? The way you spend your free time?
Even when we try to keep that tight grip of control on the things we value, we can’t hold on to them forever. Change will happen, and wouldn’t it be much better if we relinquish our valued things to the Lord before they get dropped or smashed into the floor?
Beloved reader, open that hand and give the Lord its contents. He knows what He’s asking. Trust Him. He wants to fill it again with something just as sweet.
This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: … For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.[ii]
May His streams of Living Water flow freely through you, bringing refreshment and lush beauty to the barren places in your life.
[i] “Counting Every Blessing” by Rend Collective, 2018 Capitol Christian Records
[ii] Isaiah 43:14a, 19 (NLT)