My Dad was not a young man when he married and had children, of which I am the younger of us two boys. By the time I was old enough to note such things; Dad had begun to wrinkle in his mid-fifties. I often remarked how his hands were on the smaller side and seemed to curl inward like he was not opening his hands enough, to which he always answered that it was from holding hammers and tools for so long. It always made me laugh and when I questioned it he seemed to be adamant that this was the reason for them taking that shape. I understand more, now that I am in my sixties, how one’s grip changes, maybe not always from usage of hand tools, but from time taking its toll on our body as a result of either arthritis and/or abuse. While working in my teens I saw so many men with sometimes as many as 3-4 fingers missing from work related accidents along with those misshapen from breaks and bad cuts.
When we take time to look at people’s hands we see the many variations of shapes and distinctive marks and family characteristics. For me it is shape and wrinkles, for others it may fimilar family traits that show up, but none of us can come close to those marks left on Our Father’s hands. I mean the hands of Jesus. This time of year we celebrate the coming of the “Christ Child” and even though the world is trying to lessen the impact of Christian influence by moderating the celebration, calling it happy holidays, there will never be the erasure or diminishing of what took place with God the Creator come to earth in the child form of Jesus of Nazareth.
People will argue over the possibility of a virgin birth, the actual time of year, an angelic choir and the visit of Magi from the east to see the birth. But, in the end the principle of what took place and what it represents will be neither forgotten nor be allowed to degenerate into a mere fictional coinciding of myth and folklore. The reason is because, the reason for this season is “Jesus” the Christ Child, “God with us”; “King of Kings” and “Lord of Lords”.
Those small hands that reached up to his new mother were the same hands, though grown strong through the years that touched, healed, calmed the seas and finally sacrificed their perfection as they were nailed to a cross for all who would believe on His name and follow His path to eternal life. (See Mark 8:34 “And when He had called the people unto Him with His disciples also, He said unto them, “Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”) You just have to identify your personal cross; that which is your burden, whatever that might be, and come to Him… not die under the burden of it… but to live freely with it! We have to hear Jesus say in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
It is hard to understand that the human hands can face such diverse situations and yet survive, can take on such misshapen form, but still affect those who see, hold and are comforted by them, once fear is cast aside and familiarity becomes a peace and assurance. Perhaps that is one of the reasons for people fearing coming to Christ, believing and most importantly, responding…it is the anxiety over the expectations that both the Church and believer put on others sometimes. Yes, believers put very high expectations on the idea of coming to Christ too often. It was the Father’s hands that did it all. They bore not only the weight of his own body, but the weight of the sin of a whole world past, present at his death and the future to come. Accessed only by acceptance and submission that path to eternal life can become scarier than many would choose, while many would outright reject.
Do I have my Father’s hands? Yes, I do, but in looks only. My Dad worked years in auto-body repair and mechanics, and though I started out in life using tools I spent most of my life’s career in ministry. I pushed a pencil and used a computer, visited, taught and preached. I never knew really knew the kind of hard work that my Dad’s hands went through in his lifetime. But I love the thought that even though I don’t like to think about the coming wrinkles, I do have my father’s hands. Perhaps, somewhere along the pathway that I have travelled, I have accomplished even just a bit of the work that my Heavenly Father would have me accomplished so that the name of His Son Jesus would held high... though sometimes I have fallen far short. If anything was accomplished I always prayed that Christ would have the credit and that God the Father would be glorified. Our hands are just extensions of a human form… the Heavenly Father’s hands created, saves and sustains… that is out of my purview… so I most often say, “The Father gives, I only deliver” just like the postman or the local courier.
Have you looked at, or do you remember, you father’s hands. Have you ever wondered what he might have wanted for you or expected of you? It is not always an easy thing to do… to remember, I mean. But when you do, perhaps you may find more joy than you may now think. Close your eyes and with your mind think about, or back to his hands. Perhaps what you will see is scars… or you may just see the shape or the wrinkles, but most of all I pray what you will remember most is the love they gave. Today that is my walk toward the edge, towards my Heavenly Father's Hands.
Remembering is a bitter-sweet exercise sometimes. I loved my Dad so much and I know that he loved me and he sacrificed for me. I miss him so much… all the time. That is just like my Heavenly Father, with only one difference… God dwelt among us in His Son and then sacrificed that self same Son for you and me. So He wants us to love Him too. Just like our earthly fathers, God wants that and perhaps a bit more. As creator and sustainer He wants the respect, worship and glory that are due His name. That is part of the Christmas Season and celebration... not just a happy holiday!
May you be richly blessed this day. Put your hand in your father’s hand but more importantly perhaps, put your hand in the Father’s hand and let him keep and guide not just through this “Christmas Season” but through all the seasons of life. Take a walk towards the edge with Jesus, the Christ, the Reason for the Season… walking near the edge is not bad, it has moments of testing, moments of required courage and moments of extreme joy... It's all in how we define the view from there.