Today's Reading: Acts 6:6-7a NIV
6 They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. 7 So the word of God spread.
It would seem that my hands are not what they used to be. When I was a young woman, I could tackle an arpeggio at a tempo of 110 without skipping a beat. I could hold a violin up high on my left shoulder and remain perfectly comfortable while in a three hour rehearsal. My fingers moved and beautiful music filled the air. As I recall, there was no debilitating pain; only joy in the journey. I knew this special gift was from God, He gave me hands to use as I praised Him in worship and song.
Once upon a time I typed 121 words per minute with less than two errors. Fortunately for me, that particular timed test occurred while I was interviewing for a job! My poor posture never kept me from finishing a legal brief or preparing correspondence for signature. I took great care in my work product; for perfection is always the goal.
My hands don't work the way they used to. They are scarred from surgeries where doctors cut tight and irritated tendons, freeing nerve endings and muscles for renewed service. The end result was the belief that I would once again feel the tips of my fingers and the constant burning would miraculously disappear. A new strength would return where it no longer existed. Repositioning the ulnar nerves at the elbows would allow for wretched muscle spasms to cease; yet, only time would truly tell. How long does real healing take? Can God still use broken and scarred hands?
The disciples, prior to knowing Jesus, relied upon their hands to provide food and shelter for their families. Fishermen spent endless hours in their boats, pulling ropes and catching fish with bare hands. Tax collectors used their hands to collect funds from every person living in their city. Carpenters bore splinters and cuts as they turned dead pieces of wood into tables, chairs and crosses for the Roman government. Who would have thought that Jesus could transform their scarred and imperfect hands into healing machines, where one touch would transform a humble heart into a called servant? Broken, imperfect and bruised hands were changing lives by the power of the Holy Spirit. God was doing a new thing in each of them. God can do new things in you and me too, if we will simply ask Him to help us.
It was tough, last spring, when I stopped writing devotional messages online. My father-in-law had just passed away, and my mother-in-law was in need of receiving immediate hospice care. My mother was living with us, recovering from a fall she had taken in the spring. We created a "mother-in-law hall" in our home, where both of my mothers could have a place to rest and be cared for. It was during this time that my physician suggested I give my hands a rest! At his instruction, I let go of the things I could. I stopped trying to play piano. I stopped typing devotional messages. God used my broken hands to praise Him in a very different way. My weakened hands became the caring hand for my mothers. I prepared food every day for them to eat. I held their hands at the table while we prayed and watched the birds frolick in the yard. I helped them button their night shirts and tucked them into bed each night. You see, when we learn to let go of our familiarity, God can take a gift we may not even recognize and draw it out of us in new, life-giving ways.
My mother became stable enough to move to assisted living not far from our home. My sister helped me relocate her that summer. I know where I get my fighting spirit from. My mother is doing remarkably well and she teaches me what it means to push on, every single day. My mother-in-law remained in our care until the Lord Jesus Christ returned to bring her into His everlasting arms in August. Every day was a treasured gift, and I marveled at what God was able to do with my imperfect hands.
How is God using your hands for Kingdom work? It may be a simple as sending a card or note to someone who is ill, or hurting. Maybe He will use your hands to cook a simple meal for some really hungry college students. Did you know that feeding your family is a ministry in and of itself? Maybe God will choose to use your hands to call another life into full-time ministry. The Word of God spreads when we allow Him to use our broken, imperfect hands.
Grace and peace,
Faith UMC - St. Charles, MO
Copyright 2011, Deb Spaulding
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