Until recently, I didn’t know my way around a hardware store. I was an occasional visitor, stopping in only when mulch was on a super sale or we had a plumbing crisis.
Last year when I packed away our Christmas decorations, though, I simultaneously embarked on Project Sell-Our-House. Our family of six had crammed into our small three-bedroom home for years and together, my husband and I felt God’s gentle go-ahead with moving plans.
I went from a virtual stranger at the hardware store to almost (but not quite) a mega fan. I learned about storage solutions, plumbing fixtures, and paint rollers. I learned window screens aren’t found near the windows, but are instead with the screws and nails (go figure). I tried and failed projects of every kind, Google-searching and You-Tubing my way to new solutions. I trekked to the store once, twice, maybe three times a week for new supplies.
Our For Sale sign went up on a Tuesday. By Friday, we had a ratified contract for our full asking price.
Oh yes, this whole house selling project felt anointed. God was on a roll.
Then the phone calls came, one after another, announcing problems with the buyers’ mortgage, delays, delays, and more delays. We tumbled into discouragement and doubt. Every day after school, my kids asked me, “Can we move yet?” Every night, we’d pray as a family for God’s help.
One day, I suggested to my seven-year-old that maybe we wouldn’t move after all. “The worst thing,” I told her, “would be we stay in this house. That’s disappointing, but it’s not awful.”
That night she prayed, “Dear God, we want our new house. Please, please help us be able to move. But if not, that’s okay, too.”
Her little bedtime prayer ultimately became my prayer. She reminded me to hold tight to Jesus and hold everything else lightly. God shouldn’t have to pry any plans or dreams out of my hands because I refuse to let them go.
Angela Thomas Parr wrote in A Beautiful Offering:
When you are holding everything with your hand open, then God is free to exchange His better for your good without so much pain in the transition.
After an ugly cry and a heart-to-heart sob-fest with God in my minivan the next day, I prayed this: “God, you know what I desire, but if you want us to stay put, then we’ll do that instead.”
Then I opened my hands.
Maybe in the end, Jesus will give our dream right back to us. That’s how, after weeks of frustrating delays, we finally sat around a huge wooden table and signed the papers on our new house.
Or maybe God will comfort our broken hearts as we grieve and mourn for a wish denied.
Either way, we have the sweet presence of Jesus right there with us. He knows this is hard for us. His prayers in the garden on the night of His betrayal show us that. Jesus struggled in prayer that night. He wrestled with the options, asking for another way.
And then He opened His hands:
Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done. (Luke 22:42)
Here at the start of a new year, may our prayers be simple and true: “Your will this year, not mine, Lord. Your will, not mine.”
Then, we open our hands to God, allowing Him to exchange His best plans for our faulty ones. We hold lightly to our own hopes, goals, plans, resolutions, and dreams for the year, and we hold tightly to the God who loves us so much He chose the cross.
Of course, we want joy, not pain. We want fulfillment, not delays. We don’t want dreams to die or hopes to end in disappointment.
But more than any of that, we want Jesus.
And being with Jesus means trusting His heart for us, trusting His love for us, trusting that in everything we face, He is at work for our good and His glory.