Empty Hands

A few days ago I listened to a story told by one of my favourite Bible teachers.* She told of growing up on a farm in Oklahoma, where the business of farm life meant she rarely got to go to the summer carnivals her friends attended. One day, a neighbour asked her mother if they could take young Nancy with them and their daughter to a visiting carnival. Nancy’s mom agreed and gave her a quarter to spend.

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The ten-year-old passed by the rides and headed straight for the jewelry sales booth. Her quarter bought her a narrow silver chain and a pendant to put on it. She wore it ALL the time, even to bed, and, eventually, it became tightly knotted up. She yanked at it to try to loosen the knots, but, of course, her effort only tightened them more.

Her mother came into the room and saw what she was doing. “Let me have it,” she said. “I’ll take care of this for you.”

Her mother took a needle and carefully worked the knots open. When she got to the last one, Nancy grabbed it from her hands and started to work with the needle. She only made things worse. Then, in her frustration, she started to yank at it again. Her mother patiently watched this unfold, and finally said, “Nancy, I can’t help you with this unless you leave it with me. As long as it’s in your hands, I can’t do a thing.”

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Of course, you know how that story preached!

I thought of how often I have mulled over a troubling situation, trying to figure out what to do about it. I thought about how often my efforts have made things worse, and how all my worrying and “yanking” were not just wasted time and effort; they negatively affected both the situation and my well being.

I also thought about the times I have been willing to open my hand to give a particular care into my Father’s hands. While my mind would sometimes wander back to its normal behaviour, I would say, “Nope! Not my care! It’s being taken care of!” And peace reigned.

And I saw the untangling.

Oh, how I needed this story this past week!

Casting our care on the Lord doesn’t mean we don’t do anything. What it means is that in the middle of it all, our minds are at peace, free and able to hear wise instruction from Him, instead of frantically trying anything we can think of. It means our ears are open to hear the still small voice of the Shepherd when we need it. It also means the scriptures we read minister to us as they should.

I have prayed for the situation we are all dealing with right now, and will continue to pray. And I have done, to the best of my ability, what has been asked of me by the powers-that-be, because it is right and necessary.

But with peace. Not with fear.

I do both with confidence that wisdom is being given, that answers are being found, that bigger hands than ours are working on our behalf.

“Casting all your care on Him, for He cares for you,” (1 Peter 5:7).

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done,” (Philippians 4:5) NLT.