Open your hands.
Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6 a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ 7 And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity[e] he will surely get up and give you as much as you need. (Luke 11 5-8)
So what are the actions in Jesus story? They are: SEE THE NEED. ASK. GET UP. OPEN THE DOOR. GIVE AS MUCH AS THEY NEED.
Let’s break this down. “Suppose you have a friend”. This implies that you have one… and how to we get friends? We meet them, we talk to them, we serve them, we go to their house when we are invited, they come to ours, you ‘do life’ together. You share victory and defeat, crisis and opportunity.
When your friend shows up at midnight, seeking help (loaves for travel=road trip snacks?) for someone else, Jesus showed two ways this can go:
Option 1 – You can be a jerk (I am certain this was in the original text) and deny your friend the loaves.
Option 2 – You can get out of bed and give them what they need.
The loaves could represent anything from your time for a conversation, money, actual bread, or help with a stuck car – this list could be endless – but it’s something tangible, something that requires yours time, talent or treasure.
Getting out of bed is not convenient. I spent a lot of years “on call” status when I was a deputy. It was never convenient to answer the phone from a sound sleep and respond into the cold when I was in my warm bed that contained my beautiful wife. Getting out of bed for that midnight interruption is often terrifying, because we estimate that the person on the other side of the door does not bear good tidings. Despite the negative possibilities, we option 2 it, answer the text or phone call, go to the door, but we get up, right??
Jesus says we give, not because we are friends, but because they had the courage, the audacity, to ask. This also implies something important. If you are the one in need and you are not standing at the door knocking with your hands open and extended for help, nobody will fill your needs. How can they if you do not ask? Ask with SHAMELESS AUDACITY! I don’t think Jesus is implying that you should be a beggar, as a matter of fact, the story is about helping a friend of a friend, sometimes we hear of the need from a intermediary, someone who has identified a need but didn’t have the means to fulfill it.
When you ask, you are extending an open hand. When you give you are offering with an open hand.
Many of us go through life with clenched fists, holding onto what is “mine” grabbing, keeping, needing more. The problem with clenched fists is that we are not ready to receive, merely ready to keep. Clenched fists infer the need to fight, to be in white knuckle control, to focus all our intention on gripping on to what we want. We don’t just hang on to physical stuff, we hang onto emotional and spiritual stuff. We cling to bitterness, unforgiveness, anger, mistakes, hate (which are all historical, or caused by neuro-associations with past events). Gripping so tight to the past causes us to refuse our present, and our future.
So, let us consider what happens when we open our hands. Starting with the physical: Coach Tony Blauer teaches a concept called fingers splayed. This natural response to being startled causes a chain of protective things to happen – we flinch, raising our open hands in a primal reaction, placing our hands between the threat and our head. When our hands are open we are exponentially stronger, open hands activate extensor chain muscles. When we show open hands, it is a universal symbol that we come in peace, that we do not want to fight, and clearly, that these are not the droids you are looking for. When our hands are open, we can give things, receive things, pick things up, catch, comfort, and calm. Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list, but I believe we can clearly state that open hands are discernibly better than clenched fists.
Spiritually open hands are a pretty solid choice too. I am certain that there are times when we shake our fists at God – sometimes this world hurts us. Even when we are hurting it is critical to open our hands to our Creator. When we clench our fists, close our heart and shutter our spirit to God, we are stuck here in this world – we cannot receive blessings, healing, comfort or peace with our fists raised.
Sometimes it seems appropriate to raise our fists and shout at the injustice in the world, however, it seems better option to open our hands to the people in need, demonstrably showing Christian love. Instead of offering lip service to things, open our hands, give up our time and open our wallets to people in need.
If you are a warrior you know that the battle is not won with your words, its won with action.
If you choose to join this battle – in service of the King of the Universe – remember that it is open hands and love, not clenched fists and hate that win. Clenched fists increase the desire to fight – people react at a primal level to fists, they recoil, begin to activate the fight or flight response and shut off communication.
Open hands show peace, we intuitively know that a person with open hands does not intend harm, we can hear them and their body language agrees with the love that they are speaking. Raise up your fists to someone and tell them to have a good day or that you love them. See if they believe.
Raise up your open hands and try again- open hands change everything.
Thanks for reading.
Rich Ohm – Fallout Shelter Ministries
The ultimate example of open hands is the man who took the sins of the world upon him, let go of everything including life, as a sacrifice for you. You see his work all around you, and you are created in his image. Open your hands. Just try it. Don’t cling to anything but him.