The other day, as I was washing my hands for the umpteenth time, I noticed a new brown spot. An age spot! I am amassing quite a collection of them and I suspect that is normal and a natural part of the aging process…something to look forward to. If you haven’t taken a look at your hands lately, take a minute right now and do that. Our hands tell us much about our lives. Many of us would not qualify for the job of hand model and some of us go so far as to try to hide our hands. Some have spots, others are bent and crooked with arthritis. Some are old and wrinkly. Whatever your hands look like, take a look now.
Because those hands of yours, like them or not, have done amazing things. Your hands have washed dishes and dried them. That means you have had enough food to eat. Those hands have held the hand of another who you have loved. That means you have not been alone. Those hands have cooked and cleaned, fixed boo boos and skinned knees. They have held books and babies… yours or someone else’s. You have caressed the face of a loved one and perhaps held the hand of one who is dying. Some of us have used our hands to grip the arms of the dentist chair so tightly we have left marks. Our hands have thrown baseballs, footballs and basketballs. They have held golf clubs and tennis racquets. We have used our hands to push kids on bicycles and swings at the park.
I knew the relationship between my Dad and I had changed when I had to hold his hand to steady him as we walked over uneven terrain. We have used our hands to pet dogs, cats, Guinea pigs and snakes. I have laid my hands on people who were affirming their faith, receiving their first communion and as they were dying. These hands have splashed in the waters of baptism and have held the cup of wine and the bread of communion.
Psalm 90 says this, “May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us… yes, establish the work of our hands.” We use our hands to do the work of the Lord. We use them to give, serve and love others. It was the Chief Priest who, on the Day of Atonement would lay his hands on the head of a goat, transferring the sins of the people to the scapegoat. The goat was them led into the wilderness and set free. Jacob placed his hands on each of his 12 sons and gave them a blessing before he died. And Solomon raised his hands to heaven as he prayed at the dedication of the temple in Jerusalem.
Even Jesus spoke of hands. As He was dying in the cross He cried out, “Father into your hands I commend my Spirit.” Over and over in the Old Testament we see God’s people being handed over to their enemies because they had been disobedient to the Lord. We clap our hands to get someone’s attention and to give thanks for something another has done. We lift our hands up in worship and praise and we fold them as we pray. When we receive communion, we cup our hands to receive the bread. Shaking hands is a greeting and sometimes the sealing of a business deal. And some of us cannot talk without using our hands. People who do not have sight use their hands, mostly their fingers to read. And people who cannot hear talk with their hands.
We use our hands in nearly all we do. God created our hands to do things, and to do work in His kingdom. Some of us have hands that resemble someone in the family. I never had the privilege of meeting my Mother in law, but I have seen pictures of her, and Barb, as well as all of her sisters, have their Mom’s hands. We have fingers on these hands, fingers with fingerprints. And no one has the exact same prints as we do…no one. We give hands in marriage and our hand contains the ring that reminds we are joined to another. And we talk about the hand of God. It means God’s invisible and intangible hand is on us; leading, guiding, encouraging, protecting, strengthening and giving us courage. It is God’s hand that writes our names in the book of life, and God’s hands that in the beginning scooped up the dirt that formed man who is created in His image. It was Jesus hands that took two fish and five scrawny loaves of barley bread, broke them and fed thousands with plenty left over.
God looks at our hands and sees potential… for blessing others, serving others, comforting others. Our hands are not just skin, tendons and bones. They are tools in the hands of God. He has given us gifts and talents to use to help others and bring Him glory. Our hands aren’t just one more part of our bodies. They are gifts, given by God. It matters not if they are dirty or calloused. They might be old or young, rough or smooth. But they are ours to use…for His glory.
In His grip
Pastor Matt W