by Vanessa Stimmel

The bright sunshine and steady ocean breeze enveloped me as I sat in the warm sand and stared into the distance. It was a peaceful scene, but my mind and heart swirled chaotically within me.

My thoughts raced through all that had to be done before the end of the summer. I questioned if I had what it took to accomplish it all as our family prepared to move halfway across the country. All of my many emotions rose up in a frenzy – spirit and flesh in constant debate.

I dug my fingers and palms deep into the fine, dry sand until it began to feel cool on my fingertips. Grabbing two fist-fulls of the hot sand, I squeezed hard, perhaps in an effort to release stress. The harder I squeezed, the more sand fell out from between my fingers.

This practice proved to be cathartic. I continued this repetitive motion as I processed through my internal thoughts and struggles.

A few minutes later I picked up the sand once again, but as opposed to squeezing it, I gently cradled it in my palms. Hands open. No tension. Just a lose holding. I noticed that very few grains fell through my fingers.

Jeremiah writes in chapter 10, verse 23, “O LORD, I know that the path of [life of] a man is not in himself; It is not within [the limited ability of] man [even one at his best] to choose and direct his steps [in life].”

As much as it may hurt our ego to accept, apart from Christ we are unable to purely, obediently, and wisely dictate our own steps without fault. The tighter we cling to our limited time, finite strength, and temporal plans, the more our very life seems to slip through our fingers. When we live with our hands gently and humbly held open, however, we not only hold on to the proverbial sand that is already in our hands, but room is made for even more! We’ll never regret surrender, but a living life through clenched fists is bound to lead to regret and anxiety.

There is no lack in His ways, no deficit in His Kingdom. May we each lay our personal concerns, struggles for control, and plans made in vain at His feet today and every day. Should we find ourselves picking them back up, may we continually return to His throne – hands and hearts open as we receive His presence and the best version of our stories.