Hand in Glove

 

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His old leather gloves are worn and soft, wrinkled across the knuckles, cracked in the palms, permanently formed in the shape of his hands. If they were used for a plaster mold, the result would be an accurate cast of my husband’s hands. Clad in these gloves, his strong hands have dug gardens, shoveled snow, repaired cars, hung Christmas lights, even gently cradled newborn grandbabies in their broad, warm palms. Muscles, bone and sinew working together to perform specific tasks have given these gloves their unique shape. But when they are laid aside on the shelf, no matter how much they resemble my husband’s hands, they are powerless. Only his hands within them bring warmth to cold leather and strength to hollow fingers.

When I feel weak and empty I sometimes see myself as a laid aside glove. My spiritual form is made in the image of God. Like a glove, the shape of my soul is contoured by the life of Christ within it. But when I have in some way blocked His life-giving power from filling out the contours of my soul, then I am weak and ineffectual. Not that I have been discarded. That is not possible, for He promised, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of My hand.” (John 10:28 NIV)

The truth is, I don’t always allow Christ’s indwelling Spirit liberty to expend the power He desires to work out in my life. Sometimes my passion for Him wanes, my eyes stray from His face, I become distracted by my own desires and self-preoccupation, worried and burdened by the temporal. And my soul begins to slowly deflate like a balloon losing air, or an unworn glove.

When this is happening, it takes me a while to catch on. I begin to notice my spiritual energy leaking away and I am less effectual within my own faith life and in the lives of those around me. So I know I need to draw near again. Set aside the tasks of the day and spend some time nourishing my soul in the Word of God, listening to His heart in prayer and meditating on His love and goodness. Gradually the fingers of my glove tingle with returning strength. Not my own but the strength of God’s power vitalizing my grip, working through me to accomplish those things He desires me to do which I cannot do on my own.

“For it is not your strength, but it is God who is effectively at work in you, both to will and to work, strengthening, energizing and creating in you the longing and the ability to fulfill your purpose for His good pleasure.” (Phil. 2:13 AMP)

It takes some time for a new pair of gloves to take on the shape of the hands they belong to. Fingers are stiff and tasks done clumsily, yet with use the leather gradually forms to the hand’s unique shape. I want my soul to be well-used, sculpted in the shape of my Saviour whose Spirit fills me from within to work out His purposes. It is a unique, miraculous partnership, hand in glove.

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An Atmosphere of Thanksgiving

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“He himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.
From one man He made all the nations,  that they should inhabit the whole earth;  and He marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from any one of us. For in Him we live and move and have our being.”  (Acts 17:25-28 NIV)

In the twilight between sleep and wakefulness, I become aware of my breathing; the rhythmic intake and outflow of air continuing as it has since my first infant cry.
And I am thankful to God, who gives me life and breath and everything else.

Often I find myself thinking about the bond I have with all people, whether near or far, for we are made in the same image with common needs, desires and dreams.
And I am thankful to God, because my origins began in one person from whom He populated the whole earth, with many diverse cultures and nations.

Whenever I suffer from a sense of insignificance, I remember that my life has specific parameters in time so I might fulfill the purposes for which it was created.
And I am thankful to God, who determines in His providence when, where and how I live.

So God gave me life and breath. He gave me the faces of others in which to see myself. He gave me an appointed destiny within time. Why?

God did this so that I would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from any one of us. For in Him I live and move and have my being.

In God I live and move and have my being. My entirety is captured in that one brief sentence, causing such a welling up of gratitude, I feel I may burst with the vitality of it. He fashioned my being, my connection with others, my function in the world, so that I would seek Him and reach out for Him. He planted eternity in my heart, where nothing else would satisfy but Himself. And in my seeking He is not far, because His desire is for communion with me.

I am made in the “imago Dei”, the image of God, according to Genesis 1:26-27. I am representative of the crown of His creation, possessing the ability to reason, moral volition, relational capabilities, and inherent spirituality. God did not give the animals the ability to think outside themselves, to ask the big questions of life or be aware of their own future death.

With these uniquely human qualities comes the capacity for much pain, despair and sin. But these qualities also provide a great capacity for worship, for joy, for gratitude given to God, Creator of heaven and earth and the lover of my soul.

God has given me ….
                        life and breath and everything else,
                             appointed times and boundaries,
               the ability to seek Him, reach for Him and find Him.

He is not far from me, nor has He ever been, even when my back was turned to Him.
The fact is, He is as close as my very breath, because I am created in His image to live and move and have my being.

May thanksgiving to God be the atmosphere of my days forever.

 

Signature of the Divine

signatureAs a left-handed child, I found learning cursive writing to be a challenge. Writing flows from the left side of the page to the right, which meant I had to hook my left hand over the line of writing or slant my letters in the wrong direction. Neither satisfied me, so I determined to practice until my script looked like it was written right-handed. I began with my signature. For the first letter of my given name I developed a leaning V with a dramatic upstroke at the end, arching over the rest of the letters. I still sign my name that way, many years later. It is my original signature, distinctive to me alone.

God inscribes His indelible signature on the vast canvas of creation. He first declared Himself by what He created from nothing. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1 NIV) Every mountain, every tree, every animal, every grain of sand is imprinted with God’s signature. Like an artist signing his painting, God reveals who He is in all He has made. “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.”  (Psalm 19:1-2)

Even those who deny the existence of God must question their unbelief when they survey the world in which they live. From vast galaxies in space to microbes invisible to the naked eye, each unique aspect of creation displays the signature of a divine Designer. “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — His eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”  (Romans 1:20)

A signature is a hand written depiction of the signer’s name on a document as proof of identity and intent. God has written His name on every person He has created. We are made in His moral image as proof of His identity. “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.”  (Genesis 1:27) We are not some hastily scribbled postscript; we are God’s ultimate creation, intended for relationship with Him. A signature on a work of art verifies its authenticity. Proof that we come from the hand of God is found in our desire to reach out beyond ourselves for connection with our Creator. “You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” (2 Corinthians 3:3)

God’s signature is everlasting, becoming more legible as we allow His Spirit to transform us. “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)  As we grow closer to God in our walk with Him, His signature will be clearly evident for others to read as the beauty of His flowing script is displayed in how we live.