Open-Handed Living

"I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver."
~ Maya Angelou.
Rachel told the kids a really fun story two weeks ago.  I wonder if they are still thinking about it?  Remember the story she told about catching monkeys by putting food inside a gourd with a hole big enough for a closed monkey hand to reach into but small enough out of which a fist full of food could not come out.  Monkeys will reach in for the food, but not be willing to release the food in their hands in order to free their hand from the gourd.  In this way the gourd becomes a trap for the monkeys, making them easy to be captured.
Silly monkeys. Just let go of what is in your hand. Then you will be free!
If we are honest, we can be like these silly monkeys. There are places in our lives where we are tightfisted living and getting caught up in things from which it is difficult to be liberated. 
I remember when my oldest daughter was just 6 months old and I thought I needed a minivan.  We were hauling her gear around, especially when we went to visit the grandparents. The two-door car didn’t seem to be sufficiently big enough.  Oh, it held the three of us and all of Abby’s gear.  But it still didn’t seem big enough.  So we bought a new van, trading in the car, on which we owed more money than it was worth, and started to pay really high car payments. 
That one decision made for really tightfisted living. 
So do a myriad of other decisions in our lives. Stretching our housing budget to get that “better” home.  Putting that family vacation on a credit card because we want to take the kids now, before they get too old for characters and theme parks. The end result is tightfisted living because we have to pay for these things and there is only so much money to go around.
Sometimes tightfisted living comes out of life circumstances: an illness and the subsequent doctor bills, moving onto the “fixed income” of retirement, the loss of a job.  We hold onto our resources like the monkeys hold onto the food.
Jesus invites us to move away from tightfisted living and move into open handed living where the resources that God has given us flow through our hands and to the world around us.  It is exactly what this “Give to the Max Day” elicits from many people…open-handed living, benevolent living, extravagant generosity. It is the life that is really life that Jesus talked about. 
I experienced the liberation of open-handed living when I received a sum of money from my mother shortly after my father’s death.  I was able to give money to the youth group at my church.  Along with the gift my brother also gave, that youth room was stocked with all the things that made for a fun hang-out space.  We could have kept the money for ourselves and lived a little larger.  Instead, we discovered an unbelievable joy in open-handed living where what God had blessed us with flowed through our hands and blessed the lives of others.  It was truly liberating!
As you evaluate and update your giving to God through the church, I encourage you to spend some time in prayer with your hands in front of you, palms up and open.  Pray that God would show you how to move away from any tightfisted living into more and more open-handed living of generosity and blessings.  May your prayer lead you to generosity to God through the church and generosity for the world around you. Open-handed living is truly liberating!
Pastor Becky Jo

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