When I was in high school, a missionary came to speak in chapel during our church's missionary conference. (I went to a small Christian school in a conservative Bible church in central Kansas.)
This missionary gave us an object lesson that has stuck with me all this time. Every so often, I recall the story and illustration, and I am reminded again of the simple truth taught so many years ago.
This missionary took off her necklace, wound it into her palm, and closed her fist over it.
"This is often how we treat the treasures God has given us. As if we must hold onto them at all costs, as if losing them would be the worst thing ever. We hide the treasure. Nobody else sees it, nobody gets to enjoy it, and neither do we."
Then she opened her hand and displayed the necklace.
"God doesn't want us to fret and obsess about the gifts he gives us. When our fist is clenched tight over our gift, there are two truths we must understand.
1. If God has to pry that gift from our clenched fist, it is going to hurt.
2. If our fist is clenched, God cannot put anything else into our hands."
She closed her fist again and asked a young boy to come up and try to get the necklace. When he'd wrestled a bit and she'd made faces and and said 'ouch!' a few times, she let him stop trying. Then opened her fist and invited him to take the necklace again. This time, it came right out, no pain, no drama.
Asking him to hold the necklace, she dug into her pocket and pulled out several more, piling them on his open hand until he had to use two hands, and even then, chains and pendants and beads were dangling over the edges of his grasp.
It's a lovely picture, isn't it?
Last week, as I attended the ACFW Conference, I was reminded again of this story. All around me sat men and women who had a gift from God. The gift of story, the gift of words, the gift of fiction. I wondered how many were holding it in a closed fist, how many were holding it on an open palm. How many would have more poured into their keeping, and how many would God remove the opportunity from?
Then I brought it a little closer to home. How tightly was I holding my own gift of fiction-writing? Would it hurt badly if God decided to take it away? Would I be open and ready if He chose to pour more blessings into my hands?
I had to admit that I was holding on rather tightly to this writing dream. Thinking more about the gift than the giver. So I'm working on loosening my grip, easing open those fingers, relaxing my hold. Remembering to be grateful for the words, the stories, the opportunities I've been given, and ready, if God so chooses, to put it aside in favor of another, better gift of His choosing.
How about you? How closely are you holding the good gifts God gives? Are you ready for more blessings? Is your fear of losing what you have keeping you from receiving more good things?
Earl Grey Aficionado
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