"You shall know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free"
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Paul Hayden

When a ‘Hand Out’ is a Hand Up

January 16, 2023

“Where do you want to go today?” Microsoft uses that slogan to convince you that you can head in any direction you please with their software. But Earl Nightingale, one of the great motivational speakers, said it better. "Imagine that you are the captain of a great ocean-going vessel," he suggests. "Before even leaving the harbor, you lay out plans for your voyage. Using maps, choose a destination, then employ your navigational skills to arrive safely."

"Without a chosen destination and a map to help you arrive," he continues, "you are akin to a ship without a rudder. If you leave the harbor, you'll probably be a derelict on some deserted beach." In other words, if you don't know where you're going, you're bound to get there. 

Epictetus wrote these wise questions long ago that we must ask ourselves. "Who exactly do you want to be? What kind of person do you want to be? What are your ideals? Whom do you admire? What are their special traits that you would make your own? It's time to stop being vague. If you wish to be extraordinary and wise, then you should explicitly identify the kind of person you aspire to become." 

Let's improve our life journey today with some wisdom. On your journey to where you would like to go, you will be offered many 'hand-outs' from people who want to take you to where they want to go. They have a plan for your life. My caution for today is to choose wisely the hands you hold. There are helping hands and harmful hands, at least for where you desire to go. Be wary of hands with 'hand-outs' wanting to pull you away from where you want to go.

Here are some life-changing thoughts about hands I found on the internet. 

"A basketball in my hands is worth about $19. A basketball in Michael Jordan's hands was worth about $33 million. It depends on whose hands it's in. A football in my hands is worth about $16. A football in Tom Brady's hands is worth $29 million. It depends on whose hands it's in. A tennis racket is useless in my hands. A tennis racket in Serena Williams' hands is a Wimbledon Championship. It depends on whose hands it's in.

"A rod in my hands will keep away wild animals. A rod in Moses' hands will part a mighty sea. It depends on whose hands it's in. A sling shot in my hands is a kid's toy. A sling shot in David's hand is a mighty weapon. It depends on whose hands it's in. Two fish and five loaves of bread in my hands are a couple of fish sandwiches. Two fish and five loaves of bread in the hands of Jesus will feed thousands. It depends on whose hands it's in.

"Nails in my hands might produce a birdhouse. Nails in Jesus Christ's hands have salvation for the entire world. It depends on whose hands it's in." 

Get the message? 

These days many people and things are holding their hands out to us. We often give them our hand because we are impatient or feel impotent about what is happening in today's world. So many are in a crisis or so lost that they will grab onto any hand. But in the long term, a human-based 'hand-out' creating co-dependence is not generally a ‘hand-up,’ no matter the reason.    

After 49 years of walking with the Lord, I have seen the results of making decisions and acting without God's guidance. I've also seen the results when I have allowed God's Word to guide me. Acting without holding God's hand means I'm not holding any hand at all. It could also mean that I'm holding someone or something else's hand, leading me away from where I want to go. Either way, the results are the same, generally not good, and certainly not God's best for me. I've also learned that when I don't get God's best, it negatively affects my family, friends, and legacy. 

Psalm 16 reflects David's conflict and the resolution about whose hands to hold. "Keep me safe, O God. I've run for dear life to you. My choice is you, God, first and only. And now I find I'm your choice. The wise counsel God gives when I'm awake is confirmed by my sleeping heart. I'm happy from the inside out, and from the outside in, I'm firmly formed. Now you've got my feet on the life path, radiant from the shining of your face. I've been on the right path since you took my hand."

Like David, when you put your concerns, worries, fears, hopes, dreams, family, and relationships in God's hands, you're on the right path. Amid our confusion, a ‘hand out’ to God is a hand up to guidance and elevation. 

Here's my advice. It's from an old song back when I was growing up. "Put your hand in the hand of the Man who stilled the water. Put your hand in the hand of the Man who calmed the sea. Take a look at yourself, and you will look at others differently. So, put your hand in the hand of the Man from Galilee."

Remember, the life you desire depends on whose hand you are holding. Humm, I think I hear that old song, "I Wanna Hold Your Hand!"

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Ed Delph is a leader in church-community connections.
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