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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On the Wings of the Wind

curtains in a breezeWhen my cracked living room window was replaced last fall, I hardly expected it to impact my inner life. But it has, because now I have a window I can open to warm summer breezes, sounds of bird song and scents of freshly mowed grass and lilacs. A shy mourning dove has built a nest in a tree by the window where she sits patiently on her eggs. I slip behind the wafting curtain several times a day to check on her progress.

Through an open window life stirs, gracefully billowing sheer curtains, carrying wisps of sound and scent on warm fingers of air to freshen and revive a room long closed. My heart often feels like a room long closed, in need of the cleansing breath of the Spirit of God. A heart shut up grows stale without fresh Spirit life to rejuvenate it.

Like a dancing breeze, the Spirit makes itself known definitely but invisibly. As I see the breeze stir the gauzy drapes at my window, so I feel the Spirit of God move my heart towards Himself. I cannot predict when He will move, but I also cannot deny when He does. By a leap of my heart, a prick of tears in my eyes, a swell of joy in my soul, He reminds me there is a spiritual realm I cannot see.

When Jesus described spiritual rebirth to Nicodemus in John 3, He used the wind as an illustration. Nicodemus sought out Jesus after dark, perhaps on a night when a cooling breeze blew across the hills of Jerusalem. Although a learned Jewish leader, Nicodemus struggled to grasp the revolutionary concept of spiritual rebirth. He had the desire to learn from Jesus, but had yet to have his spiritual eyes opened.

Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.” (John 3:5-8 NLT)

When I see evidence of the wind in the billow of curtains or the sway of trees, it reminds me of how the Holy Spirit of God transcends understanding yet shows Himself in the lives of those who love Him. He blows away the desire to sin, ushering in a fresh love for the things of God. He routs out the dust of despair to replace it with the clean aroma of Christ. Sometimes in a whirlwind, sometimes in a whispering breeze, He speaks to the soul receptive to His guidance.

I want my heart to be an open window thrown wide to the wind of God’s Spirit. There may come storms or even doldrums, but because God’s Spirit is in them I can trust they will pass and I will be enriched as a result. The mourning dove sits securely on her eggs even as the wind bounces the branches where she nests. She is at peace. And so am I, resting in the knowledge that the mighty wind of the Spirit streams from the source of all love.