I had a startling revelation a short time ago. I looked at my hands, and they looked like my father’s. It was very unnerving. And I was genuinely concerned initially because his arthritis has done a number on his hands. I don’t have arthritis, but just for an instance, I saw his hands as mine!!
Those once powerful hands, whose grip was once like vice, have been transformed into almost useless flesh, hanging at the end of his arms. These same hands once wrote sermons that touched thousands. Yes, wrote, with a long since lost instrument called an ink pen. With the dexterity of a surgeon, my dad would use his hands to rightly divide the Word of God. After writing and re-writing long hand, he would use yet another archaic instrument: A Typewriter. I can still remember seeing him use an old manual typewriter. The sound of the keys tapping on the roller bar. The sound of dad manually returning the carriage. And that distinctive sound of paper being removed at the end of a completed page.
I recall my father’s excitement when he got his first electric typewriter. It was an IBM Selectric. It was like Christmas for him. He rarely bought anything for himself. I recall going with him from store-to-store, looking for the typewriter that fit into his budget. He was cheap, so it was gonna have to be next to near free. He might still have the first penny he ever made.
He later upgraded to the IBM Selectric II, and it was heaven on earth for him. Of course he had a variety of the font balls. He used to let me change them when he needed a different size. 12 pt., 10 pt., courier, and more.
Being the youngest 3 and the last one living at home, I lived through the era when my dad went back to school. He attended and received degrees from San Diego State University and Bethel theological seminary where he later became a part time staff member after receiving his Dr. of Divinity. Days, weeks, even years at a time, I heard his hands on the typewriter. I could only imagine now how much knowledge the Lord had poured out through him. Through his hands.
I used to come in his office and check on him. There were piles of papers and books all over this desk. Bookshelves packed with books and other stuff. And there, on the typewriter, his fingers went. Flying over the keyboard. Creating some new work or manuscript. For school, church, or whatever the task required.
These same hands, dark, veined, would also use tools to attempt household repairs, gardening, and cooking. They were also exceptionally gifted at corporal punishment. I received many a thump on my noggin from those deadly fingers. It was during one of these painful, embarrassing, and public punishments, that I noticed that his fingernails. They were both long and dimpled. He even wore clear nail polish. I remember asking him why he wore clear nail polish. He said that in his era, pastors and public figures that shook and talked with their hands were accustomed to keeping their nails well manicured, including a fresh coat of clear on their nails.
These same hands held my mother’s for over 40 years. They held us as children. They held countless hands of church members, grieving families, politicians, and the like. They saluted in the navy and helped save lives as a corpsman. My father’s hands have probably can’t do more than mine may do currently. But now, I am so cautious touching those hands when I greet him. Arthritis has ravaged them. He is in almost constant arthritic pain. His hands have been gnarled like old oak tree branches. Robbed of their dexterity, hands that once held chopsticks and wrote with pens, now struggle to hold a fork to feed himself or put glasses on to see. Those hands can no longer hold his grand or even great grandchildren.
So what have I done with my hands? What am I doing with my hands? That’s a lot to think about. After 46 years of life, I have to ask myself “what significance have you done for the kingdom of God?” My hands have played baseball and piano. They have mixed music, both live and studio for Christian artists. They have tutored, dug ditches, landscaped, cooked, cleaned, done laundry, ironed, folded, changed diapers, bathed my children, held them close, wiped their tears, cheered them on, and guided them towards manhood. My hands have held my late wife’s hand when I asked her to marry me, when we got married, through childbirth, her sickness, and eventual death. My hands write devotionals and blogs that share God’s word, and our story. My hands wipe my own tears that fall down my face as I write this.
My Father’s hands are my father’s hands, and my father’s hands are my hands. And we continue serving the Lord with each breath he provides.
Lord, thank you for your love, mercy, and grace. Thank you Lord for allowing to see you through the lives of others. Thank you for letting others see You through our lives. Bless us to be both salt and light to all we come in contact. In Jesus name, amen.
- Prov. 22:6 (NIV) – Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
- Luke 10:22 (NIV) – “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
- Matt. 5:13-16 (NIV) – 13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. 14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.