September 26, 2021

The Hands of God

            Anyone with a dime’s worth of common sense knows that God is a spirit who has no hands like the appendages that hang from a human being’s arms. Yet the Bible is full of references to the hands of God. And even though theologians warn against making God anthropomorphic, believers find comfort in the idea that God holds them “in his hands.”

            My favorite verse in the Old Testament, for example, is Isaiah 41:10. The prophet’s words have blessed me for decades: “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

            Dear friend April Humble, a victim of spina bifida for more than 60 years, tells me Isaiah 41:13 comforts her even more with these words: “For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” I too love the thought of God taking hold of my right hand, especially when I am afraid. As a boy, fearful of lightning, I was less afraid when my Dad held my hand.

            Jesus spoke of his Father’s hands. I love his words in John’s Gospel when Jesus says about his followers, “No one can snatch them out of my hand.” He goes on to say that “no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand” because “I and the Father are one.” In these sunset years, when loved ones and friends are dying, I need the confidence that no one, not even the devil himself, can tear me away from my Lord’s hands. As advancing years remind me of my own mortality, I am praying for the faith to pray as our Lord did on the cross, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”

            My good friend Cecil Spear found a prayer which he and I dearly love. Its words are profound but easy to remember: “Lord, let me take you by the hand, let me feel your hand in mine. Let me know the joy of walking, in your strength and not in mine! Amen." That’s a great prayer to pray as each day begins.

            Our songs remind us God has the whole world “in his hands,” and even better, that He’s got “you and me, brother, sister, in his hands.” That simple song conveys a great truth – that God is the sovereign Lord of the universe and the world He created remains in his control, in his hands. The nations, and we as individuals, are still accountable to Him.

            One of the songs I sing to my dog Buddy is “Precious Lord, Take My Hand.”

I think he likes my singing; sometimes he wags his tail. Now that I am at risk for falling, these words of that song are all about the life I am living:

When my way grows drear precious Lord linger near

When my light is almost gone

Hear my cry, hear my call

Hold my hand lest I fall

Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home.

When the darkness appears and the night draws near

And the day is past and gone

At the river I stand

Guide my feet, hold my hand

Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

            When it comes my time to die, I hope someone will hold my hand and remind me that the good Lord is holding my hand and leading me home. In the meantime, while I live, I shall do what I can to remind all who will listen that the God who created the heavens and the earth is reaching out his hand of love, inviting every person on earth to find the joy of salvation “in his hands.”

            God’s hand is not difficult to recognize. It has the scar of a nail in it. The poet John Moreland said it well:

The hands of Christ seem very frail

For they were broken by a nail.

But only they reach heaven at last

Whom these frail, broken hands hold fast.

            In genuine repentance, and true faith, ask Him to hold your hand in his strong hands. He will.

+ + +