I knew I liked my ears rubbed, but I forgot how soothing it is when someone finger-brushes my hair. My five-year-old daughter is pretending to style my frizzy waves with water from the sprinkler, and I like her standing by me, a sort of reversal with her rising above my sitting form and doing my hair. I’m always on her about crying when I brush her hair, so I will not give any indication of pain even though she’s pulling a few tangles. I ask her to look for ticks, since she’s already had one taken off her head this spring. It becomes a game. I pretend to scream. She runs over to me and tweezers it out, her fingers still delicate and relatively untested by life’s tasks.
Her small hands haven’t known hard labor. They’ve yet to tie a shoe. But they hold a pencil quite nicely, and yesterday they learned the beginning notes of Twinkle Twinkle on the piano. And once upon a time, those hands, by reflex, grasped my finger like I was her last lifeline, and I was.
My hands (on the other hand) hold kitchen knives, plunge into weed-infested garden soil, bandage wounds, attempt a Chopin Etude, and are always a bit dry, even when I remember the lotion. My husband’s hands retain the ink from newspaper, have calloused palms, sport long strong fingers, and have strung more tennis rackets than Roger Federer has broken.
What were Adam’s hands like, the hands that worked Eden, that later wiped sweat from a toil-weary brow? Or Eve’s hands? Hands that cupped the forbidden fruit which later held the first nursing baby. Rebekah’s hands dressed her youngest son, Jacob, in goatskins for the purpose of stealing a birthright. Moses’ hands carried the Testimony down the mountain, down to the idolatry, and then those tired hands smashed those burdensome tablets. Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the head of the bull as it was slaughtered on behalf of the people, a burnt sin offering.
Hands work. They don’t dangle at the ends of our arms just along for the ride. They’re the work mules of our bodies, always moving, always a part of the action. Hands give directions and suffer paper cuts. Hands hold on tight. Hands raise in worship.
The Lord establishes the work of our hands (Psalm 90:17), and I pray this verse when I administer a spanking, that the discipline reaches the heart. Without the Lord’s blessing, what good is all the toiling of my hands? Meaningless, as so well put by Solomon. At the end of my life I want to hear the words of Moses, “The LORD your God has blessed you in all the works of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this vast desert. The LORD your God has been with you and you have not lacked anything,” (Deuteronomy 2:7).
The hope is that because of the work of His hands, we will hear those words. His hands fashioned all creation, and “in his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind” (Job 12:10). His hands were nailed to a cross, and that “work of his hands” is faithful and just (Psalm 111:7). His nail-pierced hands are the hands that made us, that hold us. His are the hands of which we can confidently pray, “Into your hands, I commit my Spirit; redeem me, O LORD, the God of truth” (Psalm 31:5).