I have an agenda.
I want certain things out of life, and, though I’ve no right to them, I feel somewhat entitled. When said out loud, the idea that God should give me certain things in life because I’ve “earned” them sounds incredibly foolish; yet, on some level, I believe it. Though with my mouth and head I can honestly say that I don’t think I deserve and expect God to give me a Godly man, career in missions, and, eventually, family. But, in my heart, that’s what I am holding out for.
These things I desire aren’t bad in and of themselves; they’re all good things. But the fact that this desire… No. Desire’s not the right word; expectation. The fact that this expectation exists inside me is evidence that I am not living my life with an open hand. I am treating God, to some extent, like a vending machine; I have put in time, service, and love, and I am hoping expectantly for my imagined future to tumble down the shoot towards me. Though I have tried and tried again to release this notion and lay down all the desires I have for my future at the foot of the throne, I can’t seem to be rid of it.
In Daniel, three men are spoken of. The story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego being thrown into a fiery furnace without being so much as singed is rather incredible, but that is not what draws me to this passage. Prior to being tossed in the flames, these are their words,
“If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
Did you catch that? (I made it bold, so you should’ve.) They make clear what their Lord is capable of, but they also know God does not always behave in the way we want and expect him to. They wanted to be saved, you bet they did. But the one thing they wanted more than their own salvation was for God to be glorified. But if not, God is still the only God we will bow down in worship towards. But if not, He is still the only one worthy of praise.
You see, we’re not always able to stop wanting something. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego didn’t stop wanting to live, they just made that desire secondary to God’s. Maybe I won’t be able to stop wanting certain things; but maybe those desires will lose ground in comparison to the desires of the Spirit. Living with an open hand doesn’t mean that you cease to want certain things, or that you suddenly stop liking the things placed within your hands already.
Open-handed living is a lifestyle where your desires are secondary; a lifestyle where recognition of God’s glory is the result of failure and success, of want and plenty, of disappointment and contentedness. It is a lifestyle where you understand the futility of all things apart from God, and the awesome ways of God never cease to amaze you even in disappointment.