Hear the voice of my petitions, when I cry to you,when I lift up my hands toward your Most Holy Place. (Psalms 28:2 WEB)
My son in law, when describing me to someone else, once said, “His gift of love is sending pictures in e-mail.” I laughed and thought of the many photos I’ve inserted in various e-mails describing serious, serene, and humorous aspects of my life and family. With family and friends living across the ocean it’s my way of reaching out. I’m not trying to impress them with the spectacular sights or places I’ve visited. Instead I’m reaching out for kindred spirits to share in my joy. I need companionship, not only in my home, with my wife, but with others.
When someone reads my carefully crafted story and enjoys the selected photos then writes back I’m thrilled. It’s not as quick wittedly enriching as sitting around the fire swapping tales but it lifts my heart and brightens my day. I’ve taken pictures of so many things my computer groans each time I download another collection from the camera.
There are pictures of castles, countryside, mountains, a plethora of people from around the globe, family events, holidays, work projects and even pictures of pictures. While I sat at a bus stop, in the cold winter breeze, I looked up and was startled. One aspect of life was not part of my pictorial collection. Where were the hands and feet of the world around me? How could I miss them?
Look at your hands. Look carefully and see what they tell you about your life. As I sat, shivering slightly in the breeze, I saw an old man’s hands poking out of this jacket sleeve. They were knotty and twisted with age. His knuckles bulged from years of work and his fingers were restricted with years of change and probably arthritis. I wondered, “What life did this man lead? What sort of work would wreck such a change to what I imagine were once youthful, smooth, dexterous fingers?”
I looked down and surveyed my hands. The smoothness which once graced the back of my hands looked like a satellite image of the alps. Canyons, valleys, and plains all worked together forming a ridge from the outside of the hand curving upward toward the index finger. The once slender fingers, which learned to play the piano at age five followed by the guitar and a number of other instruments of music, were fuller. The expansions of my wedding ring, thanks to a good jeweler, bore evidence of my expanded digits.
The tips of my left hand sported calluses from years of playing stringed instruments. A scar here and there bore evidence of accidents earlier in life. I remember slicing my hand working in the kitchen of a youth camp in Colorado. I thought it was a major accident but it wasn’t. The next day I was back washing pots and pans.
In each line, each scar, each callus, the depression from years of wearing a wedding band, the jagged edges from biting my nails, stood evidence of my life. I’m amazed when I shake someone’s hand. In that few seconds of contact I know something about a person and their life. Soft hands, hard hands, wrinkled hands, smooth hands, small, large, all tell a story of life. Faces are one thing to observe but I find myself looking at hands when I greet someone. Look at your hands. What do they tell you about your life?
I remember many hands I’ve touched or watched over the years. At a festival I watched the red rough hands of a glass blower handle the hot fluid glass with short iron instruments. They displayed the years of hard work close to a roaring fire. Still, there was the precise ability to finely craft each glob of glass into a work of art.
A little girl, all in pink, was playing with her doll on the train. Stubby, smooth, tiny hands deftly arranged the dolls hair. These same hands worked the buttons on her jacket and in excitement pointed out the window, with the requisite full body motion, at some fascinating view passing by the window.
My wife has lovely hands. They’re not quite as smooth and nimble as they were when we married but they are still beautiful and tell a story. Her soft touch on my ear or running her fingers through my hair can put me into a dreamy state of bliss. These are hands which nurtured our children, comforted me in trials, applied pressure to help healing and arose in praise before God’s throne.
There is one pair of hands I look forward to seeing. Jesus was a carpenter most of his life. He had a good teacher in Joseph. He had a loving mother in Mary. I can just imagine how his hands will look. Will they be rough from the hard years working with wood? Will they be soft and comforting from the years of touching lives to heal and comfort? Will they be scared from the pain he suffered to free me from sin and death?
Like Thomas, I want to touch those hands. I’m not looking for resurrection proof but to understand his great love toward me. How many hands will I touch today? How many hands will you touch today? What will my hands do today which might carry the message of grace and love God has planted in my life? I think its time to give close attention to the work of my hands as they reflect the work of Jesus’ hands in a fallen world. God seeks clean hands and a clean heart. Where will I put my hands today?