Lent – Day 2 by Alyssa Low

This morning I read the first couple pages of Henri Nouwen's books, “With Open Hands” and it just hit me how it really applies to Ryan's sermon and our journey together for Lent.


The resistance to praying is like the resistance of tightly clinched fists.  This image shows a tension, a desire to cling tightly to yourself, a greediness which betrays fear.  A story about an elderly woman brought to a psychiatric center exemplifies this attitude.  She was wild, swinging at everything in sight, and frightening everyone so much that the doctors had to take everything away from her.  But there was one small coin that she gripped in her fist and would not give up.  In fact it took two people to pry open that clenched hand.  It was as though she would lose her very self along with that coin.  If they deprived her of that last possession, she would have nothing more and be nothing more.  That was her fear. 


When you are invited to pray, you are asked to open your tightly clenched fist and give up your last coin.  But who wants to do that?  A first prayer, therefore, is often a painful prayer because you discover you don't want to let go.  You hold fast to what is familiar even if you aren't proud of it.  You find yourself saying, “That's just how it is with me.  I would like it to be different, but it can't be now.  That's just the way it is and this is the way I'll have to leave it. “ once you talk like that, you've already given up believing that your life might be otherwise.  You've already let the hope for a new life float by…You feel it's safer to cling to the past than to trust in a new future.  So you fill your hands with small, clammy coins, which you don't want to surrender. 


I know first hand what it is like to hold onto a clammy coin, trying to make my life work when hearing God so plainly that it's as if he's right in front of me, asking me to release my hand and hand over the coin-hand over my control and trust.  Surrender.  Obey.


This excerpt from Henri Nouwen's books, “With Open Hands” gives us a picture that also corresponds to what the Lord said through Ryan this past Sunday.  I almost gave up my coin, but I gave up everything else but that coin.  I almost trusted…I almost surrendered…


On this second day of Lent, you might be feeling the loss of what you are going to be giving up for these 40 days.  Let that hunger that you have to grasp at that desired activity or object move you towards Christ.  Ask yourself the questions Ryan asked this past weekend.  Re-listen to the sermon and consider what it will look like for you to enter into a posture of surrender.  If you can't do it on your own, ask a trusted friend to join you.  Let us spur one another onto love and good deeds (Heb 10:24) and move together towards a life of surrender.


Here is a link to Ryan’s 2nd Look with the questions and thoughts that go well with Nouwen’s words.