I love to take nature photographs. Oftentimes I take photos of animal tracks, insects and plants of whose identification I am unsure. I then use those photos to do research in my nature books or on the internet. Sometimes, when I am taking the photo, I will include my thumb, finger or hand (no, not by mistake) to give me an idea of the comparative size of the item I am photographing.
In the last couple of years, I have noticed a very disturbing phenomenon whenever I am reviewing those photos on my computer – I don’t recognize the hand in the photo! I mean, where did all those wrinkles and brown spots come from anyways?? The first time I noticed this I thought, OMG, my hands look old!!
Well, I am in my early 50’s and my hands have been through a lot. They have paddled a canoe on several week-long trips. They have both tree-planted and cut and piled firewood. They have hung up laundry outside in the winter in Northern Ontario (BRRR!). My hands have dipped in icy water as I scooped out minnows and fish during ice fishing (BRRR). I have played in the snow and made snow men with my kids (BRRR again). I worked hard at keeping all my fingers intact while I learned how to carve wood. But I have cut off the tip of a finger while cutting artboard with an Exacto knife. I have sewn a finger to the bottom of a quilt while hand quilting (don’t laugh – others have done it too). I have burnt my fingers on any number of occasions in a wide variety of ways including gluing them together with hot glue!. My hands have operated a wide variety of hand and power tools as well as a paintbrush. I have even shingled a roof!
But besides all the “rough and ready” stuff, my hands have been the hands of a mother who rocked, changed and fed my babies, soothed their fevered brows and played paddy-cake. As a nurse, my hands have changed, massaged, bandaged, administered medication and hopefully comforted the sick and dying. As a wife, my hands prepare tasty meals, do the laundry, wash the dishes, clean the toilet, massage aching neck and shoulders and jab needles in my poor hubby’s little butt when he’s having migraines. As a Christian, I have “laid hands” on those who need deliverance and healing, and have had them clasped in fervent prayer. My hands have been lifted up to God both in helplessness and in worship. So I guess my hands have earned their wrinkles and brown spots.
Jesus also bore marks in his hands, the large holes formed by spikes of iron hammered through flesh and bone into the rough wood of a cross. But Jesus didn’t do anything to deserve such marks in his hands. All his life, his hands were busy building good things and tearing down the bad. From boyhood to young manhood, Jesus’ hands were trained to build useful earthly things out of wood. From young manhood, and only for a very brief period of time, Jesus’ hands were busy building the kingdom of God. Jesus’ hands were instrumental in carrying out this work. He laid his hands on the sick and healed them, held out his hands to the dead and called them forth into life, placed his hands on the tormented and delivered them, lifted up his hands and blessed them. And yes, Jesus used his hands to over-turn the tables of the money changers who were defiling God’s temple. Jesus only ever used his hands for the good of others, out of his love for others.
Jesus’ hands, hands of love, compassion, mercy and forgiveness, didn’t deserve to receive such cruel wounds caused by iron spikes. But in his obedience to God and in his willingness to suffer those wounds in our place, he has earned a place at the right hand of God’s throne and he wears a crown of glory. Jesus’ hands helped to change the world forever.
Heavenly Father, please use my hands, as wrinkled, spotted and imperfect as they may be, to bring your love, compassion, mercy and forgiveness to this hurting world and use my hands to build your kingdom.