Opening Our Clenched Fists to God’s Will

empty hands
“Father, if You are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but Yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)

“There was nothing he wanted to pray less than the Gethsemane prayer. But if Christ had needed to take the harder path for some better purpose, who was he to ask for an easier route?” (The Language of Sparrows
by Rachel Phifer)

The Language of Sparrows is a touching tale of the hope that arises when painful secrets are brought to light. The main character is 15-year-old Sierra, but Nick, a teacher with a heart for at-risk teens, plays a major role in her life. Nick, whose students thrive under his unconventional way of teaching, is on thin ice with the principal who demands a  traditional way of teaching. He eventually gets suspended after protecting Sierra. Now he’s at a deep loss as the principal plans to ask the board to terminate him.

How could Nick give up a career that was his life and passion for 15 years?  As he crouched on his knees, he struggled with the Gethsemane prayer – “Thy will be done.” In anguish of heart, he told God He could have his job. “My hands are empty,” he cried as he reached out his hands as if Jesus needed to see how empty they were. But when he looked, all he saw were his closed fists.

Isn’t this a picture of each of us? We say the words, “Thy will be done,” but we still keep our fists tightly closed around what we love. How do we pry open our hands and empty them into the hands of an Almighty God? How do we entrust all we have into His care? How do we let go and let God?

Nick forced his hands open and groaned, “I don’t know how to let go.” He pressed his forehead to the floor  and prayed over and over, “I will submit. By Your grace, I put it all in Your hands,” until his body and soul relaxed in the palms of a capable God. By grace, he submitted to God’s will, imagining putting his job, his relationship with his father, and April (who could not risk her heart to love again) into God’s hands.

Have you ever had to give up something you loved to do? Something you had a passion for? Something you felt called by God to do?

Christ Jesus gave up so much more than we will ever have to. Picture Him giving up His heavenly throne for a stinky stable to suffer in a sinful world, groveling in the garden of Gethsemane with such agony that His sweat was as great drops of blood, and begging the Father to “let this cup pass from Me.” But He submitted to His Father and a way of unspeakable, excruciating pain and suffering. Why? Because He loved us so much that He was willing to take our place. Because of His loving submission, we by grace can learn to unclench our hands and live out the Gethsemane prayer – “Father, if You are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but Yours be done.”

The Well We Don’t Always See

Living Water
“Let anyone who is thirsty come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” (John 7:37-38)

How was your Thanksgiving Day? Some of you may have rejoiced in all the blessings you may still have. But others may be burdened with sorrow that veils the blessings so you can’t see them anymore.

Not everyone feels Thanksgiving and Christmas are the most wonderful times of the year. Do you ever have those days where you feel like screaming, because everyone around you seems so happy? When you try to keep from crying because you’re afraid you will never stop? Perhaps this Thanksgiving Day was not joyful to you because of loss, illness or disability, divorce, domestic violence, abuse, addictions, missing or disabled (physically or mentally) military spouses or parents, family silence or criticism, or maybe having no family at all to share it with. Or maybe you have hidden pains and brokenness that you don’t dare to share with anyone, and you feel so alone and misunderstood.

When Abraham sent away Hagar and Ishmael, they wandered in the desert. With an emptied water skin, Hagar put her son under one of the bushes. She could not bear the thought of seeing her son die. Parched and weak, she distanced herself, sat down, and sobbed.

Then an angel called to Hagar, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there.”

Bowed down with grief, Hagar did not see the blessing in front of her. But God lifted her head and opened her eyes to see it. A well. Right in front of her.

Sometimes we have blessings around us we can’t see because of grief. Our eyes, blinded with tears, cannot look anywhere but down into the pit of our misery. But God hears our cries. He heard Ishmael’s cries. He heard Hagar’s cries. And He can and will hear our cries.

There is a bottomless, always-full well of Jesus’ love right in front of us, waiting for us to drink freely of it. A well full of yearning love that “longs to be gracious to us.” Of faithful love that says, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Of selfless, sacrificial love that “has freed us from our sins by His blood.” Of forgiving, nonjudgmental love that holds no condemnation for those who believe in Him. Of replenishing, restoring love that says to those whose hope has dried up, “I will put breath in you, and you will come to life.”

The well is ready for us, but like Hagar, we have to use it or it won’t help us. Hagar was likely physically weak from lack of water and spiritually devastated of hope. Then God opened her eyes to see the well, and she believed. She got up, filled her water skin, and gave her son a drink. We, too, may sometimes feel empty and hopeless. But if we by faith can lift our eyes to see what is available to us for the asking… Do you see it? That never-emptying well of miraculous love? Inviting you to get up and drink?

If you are having a difficult time this Thanksgiving and Christmas season, may Jesus hold you up and strengthen you. May He lift you and carry you when you can’t go any further. And may He each morning not only open our eyes to His never-emptying well of love, but also empower us to drink from it. Then instead of emptiness, we will have fulfillment. Instead of struggles, we will have peace. Instead of sorrow, we will have joy.

A Child's Trust

“Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall” – Body Image and Self Esteem


“Mirror, mirror, on the wall? Who is fairest of them all?” The wicked queen in Snow White thought she was so beautiful, but many who suffer from low self-esteem go to their mirrors and see distorted body images: I’m fat. I’m ugly. I hate my figure.

Our society is obsessed with outward looks. Fashion magazines, commercials, and other media are filled with air-brushed, unrealistic photos of women with outward beauty and slim figures. And men are portrayed as lean with muscular arms and six-pack abs.

All this media of what society calls “perfect” plays on our minds. Teens especially start thinking in order to be successful in life, they need to look like them. When I was a teen, I remember the pressure of being a “Twiggy,” a fitting nickname for a skinny model whose arms and legs looked like twigs. But with increased digital media, I think teens today have even greater pressure to conform. Instead of being happy with who they see in the mirror, they feel like they will never look good enough. Both media and peers, and sometimes even family members, pierce arrows of “you aren’t enough” barbs into their hearts.

Some teens even sink into bulimia and anorexia, eating disorders that often develop because of low self-esteem, poor body image, pressure to conform, or the trauma of abuse. A study done with 1000 Girl Scouts between the age of 13 and 17 produced sad results:

One in three girls said they have starved themselves or refused to eat in an effort to lose weight, while almost half said they knew someone their age who has forced themselves to throw up after eating. More than a third said they know someone who has been diagnosed with an eating disorder.

In another study of teenagers between the ages of 12 and 18, data concluded that there are more than half a million teens with an eating disorder. Sadly, many are not being treated, and many have depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.

Teens need to hear repeatedly how special they are just as they are. God has created each of us with a unique body style and individual personalities. Yes, we have to take care of ourselves, but we don’t have to look like models. He loves us just as we are. He doesn’t think we’re ugly or fat. He is enthralled by our beauty.

The wicked queen in Snow White didn’t realize that what made Snow White so much more beautiful was the beauty in her heart. And that’s what God cares about. God focuses on developing our inner beauty through the love of Jesus so it will reflect in everything we do and who we are.

A Child's Trust

♥ Are you a teen who needs help? ♥


Call Now: 1-800-394-4673 (HOPE)

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 Teen eating disorders: Tips to protect your teen

 How can an individual understand what a person struggling with an eating disorder feels if they have never dealt with an eating disorder?

Christian Teens: Body Image and Self Confidence
Self Esteem Tips: Dealing with Body Image Issues