Wineskins Archive

February 11, 2014

Harbour Lights: These Hands (Jul-Aug 2002)

Filed under: — @ 7:18 pm and

By Michael Harbour
July-August 2002

Hands are funny things. Look at your hands. Those hands are full of experience! Can you believe that those hands were once a baby’s hands? When my children were born I was eager to see their hands and their feet. I was struck by the incredible beauty, the perfection, the delicacy of the hands. Still when I see a baby, I marvel at the learning face and the learning hands.

Learning hands explore shapes and textures. One night we had to go to the emergency center in Nacogdoches because young learning hands had put a piece of plastic worm up a child’s nose too far for his parents to retrieve. We tried with our hands to snatch it out, but even when our big hands put pepper in his nose to help him sneeze it out, we were foiled. It took doctor’s hands and a pair of very long tweezers to keep the blue worm from squirming into a sinus cavity! We are thankful for doctor’s hands, and pray for those hands on a rather regular basis.

These days I have hands that have turned a lot of pages, typed a lot of characters, made a lot of pizza and done a lot of chores. They bear the imprint of a wedding ring and a school ring. They bear the scars of a couple of semi-friendly encounters. One scar is from a butcher knife. I was digging dandelions in Sandy Ker’s front yard and her brother Dale decided to take the knife away from me. Another scar was from a cane pole sword fight with Steve Clopp. I must have lost! I have never successfully used my hands in violence. I tried a couple of times. Ricky Johnson and I had a fight in eighth grade. I never landed a blow. However, I bore the marks of his hands on my face. I will never forget that.

I remember my daddy’s hands. He was working the printing press at Oklahoma A&M in Stillwater and his rag got caught in the gears of the press. He reached for the rag and held on a moment too long. He lost part of two fingers. He used to thump me with his stumpy finger! When you look at your hands, there is a lot of life there.

When my daughter was small, I would take her by the hand and lead her through dangerous places, like crossing the street, or walking in a crowded place. I loved it. She would twist her hand free when she no longer wanted to be led. When Sandra and I are walking, I am comforted when she wants to hold my hand.

Our lives have been full of hands. In our culture, we shake hands with those people we meet. We communicate trust and thoughtfulness in those handshakes. With our hands we welcome people with a wave or a touch. We embrace them. We communicate compassion and approval. We love with our hands.

Of course every source of blessing also has the potential for harm. The same hands that heal can also wound. The old cliché is that idle hands are the devil’s workshop (or is that idle minds?). Hands beat ploughshares into swords, pull triggers, slap, and grab. Hands have the capacity to change the course of another person’s life. We can lend them a helping hand, or catch them red-handed.

What kinds of work do your hands do? Some hands paint bedrooms or masterpieces. Some hands catch fish or footballs. Some hands knit, or weave, or carve. Some hands change bed linens, or diapers, or tires. Hands build and write and deal. Do you remember hands that brushed away your tears? For more than a thousand mornings, my hands have brushed tangles out of my daughter’s curly hair.

Bob Burley called the other day and I remembered how much I loved him. He reminded me of handprints left in the driveway by tiny Harbour hands, years ago. I was reminded that handprints leave heartprints. Your hands express the content of your heart. Did you ever receive a work of art, a painting or a quilt, or a table, or a letter, a lasting gift from the heart and hands of someone who loved you? Those are the greatest gifts.

If our hands do express the contents of our heart, they tell quite a tale. The Scriptures tell us to greet one another with a holy handshake (it really says kiss, but we could have a little cultural liberty, Romans 16:16). We pray with our hands. “Hear the voice of my supplication as I cry to you for help, as I lift up my hands to your holy sanctuary” (Psalm 28:2). “I desire, then, that in every place the men should pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or argument” (1 Tim. 2:8). Praying hands make a difference! We also express our joy with our hands. “Clap your hands all you peoples, shout to God with loud songs of joy” (Psalm 47:1).

Our hands, as a reflection of our hearts, will be our judge. These hands…do they love and encourage and work and give to the glory of the God who created them? Do these hands bless? May my hands not be greedy! May they be full of blessing and open always.

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