Written by: Laura Chambers (2/22/2017)
There is no image that sums up the way the majority of the world approaches life than hands balled tightly in fists. It represents the war we begin to fight against everything and everyone in our way, giving little thought to others who may get trampled along the way. It is the death grip we use to hold our few possessions close to us so that nobody may steal them from us, yet at the same time we find ourselves eager to steal the treasures of our fellow travelers. These items would have and do have far less worth when we finally gain them than they did when we merely coveted.
Even God is not spared our rebellion; we run from Him and refuse what He wants to give us, clinging to something of far less worth. Is there a better way to approach life? Strangely enough, it’s the exact opposite method which is far more rewarding. Hands open, heart surrendered, war over. Laura Story’s Open Hands elucidates this perspective, promising that the cost of our complete devotion to God will never outweigh the advantages. The less we continue to direct our own lives, the easier it becomes to trust God is in control.
“Awake My Soul (1000 Tongues)” urges one’s own soul to burst forth into song in praise of God’s greatness. God deserves far more than any individual could offer Him alone because of His power and glory. The lyrics are slightly upstaged by the music effects in places, but otherwise, an enthusiastic track that truthfully draws on the well-known hymn. “Open Hands” suggests that the greatest thing we can do is to surrender our wills to God’s, holding what we have loosely to allow God to work. Story is joined by Third Day’s Mac Powell on this song, and it’s a great move. Surrender and submission isn’t just for women; we all need to bow before the Lord and offer Him all we have. “You Came Running” begins with a tale of disillusionment and brokenness. When everything we counted on has been removed, what’s left? God rushing toward us ready to help and comfort. The second verse is the “after“ to the first verse‘s “before“, confident, sustained, and surrendered to Christ. It’s a promise you can rely on no matter how many times you fail Him, that He will cross the distance to meet you there. “Give You Faith” is a parent’s promise to give their child the most important thing of all; faith in the Lord. No earthly gift a mother or father could leave behind compares to a legacy of trusting God. They may fail, but He never will. It seems like the kind of lyric that ought to be printed and framed on the wall of a child’s nursery.
“For The Love Of My King” draws upon a hymn as well, vowing to sing of the love of Jesus for always. We can be confident that our hope still holds no matter what we’re going through. The chorus has a markedly faster tempo than the verses, so much so that it almost seems like a medley rather than one song. “Death Was Arrested” predates this album by about two years. The song takes the form of a testimony, cleverly connecting the death of death with the new life we received. Each verse is drawn together by this thread, culminating in a celebration of freedom. I‘d never heard this song before, but it was a good choice. Story’s vocals here are joyous and triumphant. “Whisper” expresses the belief that we must act in faith rather than relying on our senses. If we wait for God instead of pushing ahead, He will speak quietly but surely to us. We can be still even when life is moving around us at the speed of light; there we’ll find peace and healing. “Every Word You Breathe” continues with this theme, taking the form of a request for God to speak to a surrendered heart. Whatever He says becomes a lifeline to a soul in need of rescue. Instead of trusting in anything or anyone else, we must hope in God.
Evoking an intimate moment of worship, “Majesty” wonders in awe at our welcome in His holy presence, if even angels bow before God. Seeking to find completion and lose ourselves in Him is the only way to experience real life. For all the glory He displays now, there is far more to be revealed in the end. ‘Extraordinary” struggles to understand how God could love us enough to consider us children and friends despite us being undeserving of His gifts. There’s nothing ordinary about such consideration at all, meriting gratitude, praise, and our best attempts to return and share His gift with others. It‘s enough to make you dizzy just thinking about it. “Grace Abounds” closes with a soothing, hopeful reminder that there’s more than enough grace for every struggle. Whether our doubts are brought upon by experiencing tragedy firsthand, or witnessing traumatic events around the world, God offers us an unlimited supply of His grace to draw upon. Sometimes we have to repeat these truths to ourselves over and over before they can take hold. We are never alone. It’s almost like you’re wrapping yourself in the blanket that is this song and letting God rock you peacefully to sleep to the heartbeat rhythm of His timeless promises.
I don’t know what you’re experiencing right now. Maybe it’s the dull, cold numbness of loss, or the searing bitterness of betrayal. Perhaps you’re wandering blindly in a fog, straining to see the road ahead, or frantically clinging to the sides of a boat, adrift on perilous seas. Or it could be that for the first time in your life, you’re finally approaching the summit of the mountain you’ve been scaling. Wherever you are, whatever your situation, there’s no better response, success or failure, than throwing yourself at God’s feet and releasing your grasp on treasures and burdens alike. Open Hands redirects our attention from the pleasures and cares of this world to the God whose blessings sometimes look more like the net to break our fall than a hand pulling us back from the edge. Laura Story reassures and rejoices in this album, a cup of comfort for the weary soul.