Friday, August 6, 2010

Loving Hands

When I held Seraiah’s tiny newborn hands for the first time her eyes opened and widened so that I could look deep into the soul that had so recently entered my life, fresh from the heart of Father. She lives far from me now and those tiny hands have grown into little girl hands that are learning to play the piano. It's been a few months since I last saw her, but I can bring her hands to mind as easily as I can picture the hands of her mommy or daddy. Love does that.

A man’s hand, strong as steel and big enough to cover half of a woman’s face, can caress with enough gentleness to hardly disturb a single tiny soft hair on her cheek. It can wipe away a fragile tear so tenderly that it leaves a trail of renewed strength in its path. Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing is so gentle as true strength.

My husband has strong hands with long fingers and firm muscles. They are roughened and calloused from hard work, making music on a guitar, and picking up the pieces of broken hearts and putting them back together. A thousand years from now I will still be able to picture his hands – hands that cradled the tiny heads of countless newborns, hands that have loved and cared for me for over a quarter of a century. There are times when I glance at his hands and, in an unexpected rush of emotion, I fall in love with him all over again.

My own hands are weakened by arthritis and wrinkled in places that match the hands of my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. They are hands that have done bad things, harsh things in their lifetime. They are also hands that carried dandelions lovingly to my mother and tenderly caressed broken hearts as I aged. Sometimes as I watch a small child cradle my hands, mindlessly drawing a picture memory of me, I am amazed at how little we think about our hands. Our hands speak volumes about our lives. I love that.

God formed the miniature hands of His Son in Mary’s womb. He watched as Mary lifted the tiny hands on her newborn to count each finger. He knew what was coming later as Mary caressed the soft cheeks on Baby Jesus and bathed him with gentle hands, splashing bubbles to make him laugh. He watched as she mothered him through childhood covering those small hands with kisses, licking off droplets of honey from a messy lunch and smoothing away boo-boos and tears when Jesus fell down and skinned his palm.

God watched as Joseph’s roughened carpenter hands guided small eager fingers, hammering nails into wood, building a toy boat. He must have laughed, watching protective, calloused hands catch the little boy as he was tossed playfully into the air and caught up in a big hug. God’s heart must have smiled with satisfaction as Joseph’s hand rumpled the tired sweaty head of an exhausted little boy smelling of fresh air and sunshine, his little Jesus.

How God must have watched with a ravaged heart as the strong loving hands that had tenderly held and blessed men, women and children dripped blood from an old rugged cross until our sins forced Him to close His eyes in pain and turn away.

I know Mary’s heart. She would have lifted those battered hands, pale and lifeless, and bathed them with her tears and covered them with kisses before Jesus was taken to the tomb. The sight of those bloody torn hands that she loved so dearly would have ripped her soul and broken her heart. It was a sight she would remember all of her days.

Who among us is worthy to look upon the resurrected hands of Jesus, hands with lightning in their fists? Those same precious nail scarred hands hold on to me so securely that I am forever shielded from harm by grace, by the powerful love that held him to the cross.

My name is carved into those hands. I am loved with a fierce abiding love.

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.”--Jesus

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