1 Chronicles 18:1-4 (TLB)
My plan today is to dive all the way into 1 Chronicles 18, but I’m stopped cold in the first verses. Three words pierce my soul and restrict my breathing. I know them intimately. I live them all too often.
. . . at the time Hadadezer went to tighten his grip. . .
Caregiving is not for those who fly by the seats of their pants. We need to keep a tight grip on schedules, appointments, medications, therapies, diet restrictions . . . and a million or so other things. And I guess that’s fine until the grip of efficiency turns anxious and compulsive – grabbing and gripping things that don’t need to be held and micromanaging things that can manage on their own. Clenched fingers and gritted teeth drop anchor and peace wings away.
If the tricky slide from organized efficiency to obsessive micromanagement had the good manners to announce its presence and intentions, it would be easy to say, “No thank you, I’m not slipping on your slippery slope.” But it doesn’t. It’s sneaky.
It starts slinking around right about the time I think I’m doing a great job handling it all, checking every box, and juggling any ball thrown my way.
But my neck and shoulders tell a different story. Before long, they are a tight mess and I’m incubating a tension headache.
But what about Hadadezer? Are things working out for him? Not so much.
We left him tightening his grip along the Euphrates River. It is precisely in this very season of grip-tightening that David conquers King Hadadezer’s entire dominion, cripples his horses, and captures his chariots and soldiers.
Poor Hadadezer – so busy clutching what he believes he can control that he loses everything.
Recently I discovered a Neck & Shoulders Tension Release Yoga Class on YouTube. It felt weird at first, sort of like a waste of time. Several yoga poses could be mistaken for a nap, for goodness’ sake. But I’m a convert now. The difference made by deep stretching, slowed breathing, and relaxing has been amazing.
It makes me wonder if this isn’t instructive on a spiritual level.
When I feel my grip tightening on circumstances and others, what if I were to make more of a conscious effort to release the things I’m holding so tightly, stretch my faith muscle, and relax into the Lord’s peace?
What if my morning prayer looked more like this:
Where is my grip threatening to tighten today?
What do I need to release to You to handle?
It’s been glorious to find physical relief from my tight neck and shoulders, but lest you think I’ve got it all together, I should confess . . . now my dentist says I’m clenching my jaw at night. I guess I’m not there yet.
It really is a process, but Jesus has good news for grip-tighteners and jaw-clenchers like Hadadezer and me. His invitation to both of us and to you, too, is to untighten and unclench; and open our hearts to receive His peace:
Those who try to hold on to their lives will give up true life. Those who give up their lives for Me will hold on to true life. Matthew 10:39 (EXB)
That sounds refreshing.
See you next week.