The Open Hand

I shouldn’t be surprised.  It is the time of year for giving.  But I’m not going to lie, I saw something I hadn’t expected tonight.  It had been a busy day…a really busy day!  With play practice, and dropping a kid at school, picking up gifts that were pre-ordered, picking up the kids, grabbing them lunch to go and getting back home and out the door again 40 minutes later.  It was that whirlwind kind of morning!

I prided myself a little on my outfit, since my husband may have used the word “frumpy” in a prevous sentence and I did my nails in the car on the way.  A sweet friend from church, Miss Marilyn, had given us tickets for a wonderful holiday Broadway concert at the amazing Fox Theatre in downtown Detroit.  Just to see it from the street at night is stunning; but to enter into the golden carved massive posts and ceiling covered foyer and its ancient grandeur is beyond entertaining no matter how many times we’ve been there.  This friend has graced us with tickets to two events in two weeks, and on other occasions as well.  Her giving heart has brought us so much fun each time.

As we parked the car and walked across the street to The Fox, the oddest thing happens.  Panhandlers start to approach.  Even children.  It’s so sad to think you’re in front of a gigantically amazing building and yet people are begging for money outside.  A man approached and asked for money for a meal.  He said he was hungry.  Now I know all the stories to be told about some of these.  Some spend their day begging and then go home to decent places to live.  Some even make a good living off of it.  Some spend it on their addictions.  I never carry cash, ever, so I had nothing to hand him.  “Even a couple dollar for a meal would help,” he said.  I watched with surprise as my very frugal husband pull out his wallet and gave him $20.  He wished him a Merry Christmas and as the man reached for the money, I realized, he had no fingers.  Little stubs, where fingers had been, but no fingers.  The rest of his hand looked sturdy and strong.  And so my mind wondered if he had lost them to the cold before from being homeless?  Or if he’d always been that way?

As my mind wandered all over the place, a thought came back to me that has been on my heart for a while.  The man’s hand was so symbolic.  My husbands hand was equally so.  An open hand. It’s bothered me how in the name of “good business”, or even a prideful “good stewardship” we sometimes keep our hand closed.  I’m not going to say that one shouldn’t be very discerning about how our money is spent; but it has bothered me to no end lately when we keep closed the hand that God has blessed.  We pray for blessings, and then we hold on to them as if God intended just to bless us for our faithfulness…our profit, our gain.  Being faithful has its own rewards, but being stingy negates our right to those rewards.

We may not always see the results of the open hand, but we should heed the responsibility of it. And apparently my husband does.  I told him I was surprised at his gesture.  He replied, “I have this guy that I help on my way to work.  In fact, if you could pick up a bag of bagels, I’d like to get those to him this week. ”     A very quiet open hand.  I had no idea.

Matthew 6:3-4 in real life.  “But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is dong, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” The open hand.  The responsibility of the open hand.  The reward of the open hand.