I was praying a month or so ago with my hands open, palms up—not my usual hand position– when this phrase came to mind, “Open-handed, open-hearted, open-minded.” I was going to add open-souled when I realized that the soul is the part of us that is always open to God. Then I found this passage in Philippians: “Make my joy complete by being of a single mind, one in love, one in heart and one in mind. “[2:3]
To be open-handed, not grasping, open-minded, not prejudiced one way or the other, and open-hearted, open to all peoples is part of our conversion from the ways of the world to God’s ways. It is about emptying ourselves of all that has been added on by our culture since we have been born, stripping ourselves down to the person that we were created to be.
The conversion process not only strips us of all the conditioned self, it brings the ego and how we function in the world under the aegis of the soul and, there, the soul teaches the ego how to function under the Spirit, under the created self. So the personality, now directed by the soul, no longer is all for itself, but is part of the whole church, the mind of Christ, the greater whole, the kingdom of God. It no longer seeks to serve only itself, but also everyone else, wherever or whomever God asks him or her to serve.
The conversion process from the world to the kingdom also strips away the personal lens, the self-serving view of the world, the warped perspective in order to reveal the broader perspective of God, of love, of forgiveness, of grace. So the person is no longer identified with the small self, but now is wholly identified with God.
To our Western minds it may sound like we are giving up a lot, the ability to act on our own, the ability to direct what happens to us in life, the chance to make life whatever we want it to be. In reality when we give up control and go where God would lead us– back to how each of us was designed, then our whole perspective changes. Our work is self-fulfilling, purposeful, deeply satisfying, because it follows our natural abilities, strengths and weaknesses.
We are so freed of the need to be self-directed; instead we are in a partnership with God where our deepest self is affirmed and where we are entrusted with our contribution to the world. And we are loved, as we are, which allows our deeper self to come forward in our lives, as the ego recedes in prominence. So then we are able to respond to what is happening before us in our own unique and most natural way. There we are doing the work we were designed to do without the overlays of the “shoulds” of our society. There is fulfillment and contentment and deep satisfaction in us as we follow the deepest thread within us to our truest self.
And don’t forget “Make my joy complete!” Joy comes from serving others and from using our gifts and talents as they were meant to be used. It also comes in the present moment, as we are available to God and to one another.
So to have open-hands towards anyone, to be open-minded and open-hearted means that we are giving our full selves to God and to others. The end of our journey in Christ is to give up ourselves to him and to others. When we put ourselves wholly in his hands, he will transform us so that we can fulfill his dreams for us. And then we will see that how we are to one person is how we are to everyone, including God.
Questions to ponder over the week: Am I open-handed, open-minded, open-hearted? In the conversion process from being a slave to the world to becoming my created selves in God’s kingdom where would I put myself? What do I need to let go of next?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who open our hands, our minds and hearts to the people we meet. May we approach God with the same openness. May we hear what God is saying to us in this moment and the next.
News from By the Waters:
All five of the videos about the Exodus story are up on YouTube. Here are the url’s to access them:
Part I: www.youtube.com/watch?v=TKfouN0PNH0
Part II: www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyvRsnqYrdg
Part IIIa: www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZU32Y09UN8
Part IIIb: www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHqKay89kjE
Part IV: www.youtube.com/watch?v=84z7KF_uv7Q
And a new one: God’s Invitation, www.youtube.com/watch?v=IOkp_-wDKFo
My book, “Thy Kingdom Come!”, is up on Amazon in both paperback and kindle versions. Look under Patricia Said Adams.