Posted by: pmarkrobb | October 26, 2017

open hands

So, I guess there is a theme to my writing this week.  I assure you the “theme” was not my idea.  I didn’t set out with intentionality in mind, but as I sat down to write today it was as clear as the nose on my face.  This is how God works sometimes, and it is such a gift when it happens.

In reading Paul’s words early this week, one particular phrase stuck out.  It’s one that I’ve heard a thousand times in almost as many contexts (many of them not “spiritual”).  It’s found in the seventh verse of the sixth chapter of first Timothy.

for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.

Yes, words I’ve heard a thousand times in almost as many contexts.  This is the “theme” that is entirely not my own.

These godly words of wisdom are a concrete footing upon which you could build a holy life.  There are other truths more worthy of the position of cornerstone, but this is foundational wisdom for living in this present world.  I hope one day to write a book titled, Possession is Nine-Tenths of the Problem.  I have had a fuse lit deep within me about the problem of possession for some time now.  We hold so tightly to the people, places and things of this world, while at the very same time professing to be followers of the One who didn’t even have a place to lay His head (Matt. 8:20, Luke 9:58) when He lived among us.  Our holding tightly so often creates an anchor or a tether that keeps us from “going” in His name and doing the things He planned for us long ago (Eph. 2:10).

Years ago, I heard a story of a man and his family who were walking along the beach.  The kids running ahead excitedly collecting seashells.  The story soon shifted focus to the youngest son, hands full of shells … well, really just fragments of shells.  The father called them “shell shrapnel.”  At some point during their walk, the father stopped cold as he caught a glimpse of his youngest son’s most favorite thing in all the world.  A starfish was floating on the surface of the water, not more than 15 or 20 feet out into the surf.  He called to his son, “Look!  A starfish!  Go get it!”  His son froze, looked out at the starfish and then back at his dad.  He made an initial move toward the surf but stopped.  The father called out again, “Go get it!”  Again, his son started then stopped, looking repeatedly out at the starfish, then back to where his father and mother were standing.  The father called out again, “Son!  It’s a starfish!  What are you waiting for?!  Go get it!”  All at once, the son turned to his father and cried back, “But dad, I can’t!” The father answered, “Yes, you can!  It’s your favorite!  Go get the starfish!”  Exasperated and defeated, the boy gave his final reply of “I can’t!” and raised his hands filled with shell shrapnel.  In that moment of equal promise and pain, the son simply couldn’t let go of the handfuls of shards to go out after the one thing he loved more than anything else.

What a vivid illustration of the lives some of us live in this present world.  We may pledge our allegiance easily and often, but does our possessing paralyze our following?  The closing words of Ephesians 2:10 are not just inspiring rhetoric.  There are specific things God planned for us to do in His name long before He created us.  I see them as the starfish floating along in the surf.  May we choose to live with open hands, not possessing the people, places and things of this world.  Ready and actively watching for the things He planned for us long ago.  And if you find your hands full right now, may you ask for the strength to release the shards.

“You can’t take it with you” is far more than an urging not to be “house poor” in this present world.  It is a godly call on our lives to care for the poor, and not our house.  It is a call to use every bit of what He has blessed us with to love the broken and the lost.  It is the posture and practice of yet not my will, but yours be done. (Luke 22:42)

Father, in Your strength, may we live with open hands, ready to receive from You and give a good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over to others.


  1. Excellent!
    Thanks for sharing and for all you do at Journeyonword

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