“My life is in your hands!” “My fate is in your hands!” I remember seeing reruns of some old-timey movies in which one of these hackneyed phrases was repeated. Often it was the plea of some poor, helpless “damsel in distress.” Whether that was good or bad depended upon whether the person she addressed was the conquering hero, or the dastardly villain.
Those cliché-riddled films were fantasy, and silly at that, but how would you like to look at someone and be thinking the same thing: “My life is in your hands”?
And yet, in many respects, this is very much like how the Scriptures describe our relationship with God. In particular, many passages in Psalms talk about the hands of God, and how He uses them to provide for us, protect us and guide us. Psalm 95:7, for example, says, “For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand.”
Another, Psalm 20:6, declares, “Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed; he answers him from his holy heaven with saving power in his right hand. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God” (Psalm 20:6-7).
One of the great verses in the Bible that offers assurance to followers of Jesus Christ is John 10:29, in which He says, “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of My Father’s hand.”
But then there are those who don’t care to have the Lord involved in their lives. Like the feisty rebel in an old film, they resist: “Unhand me, kind sir!” But a risk comes with that: “Since they show no regard for the works of the Lord and what his hands have done, he will tear them down and never build them again” (Psalm 28:5).
So, what’s it like, this being held in God’s hands? Recently I came across a statement by the late Jean Vanier, a Canadian philosopher, theologian and humanitarian, that captured it better than I could. While stretching out his arm and cupping his hand as if holding a little, wounded bird, Vanier asked:
“What will happen if I open my hand fully? We say, ‘The bird will try to flutter its wings, and it will fall and die.’ But what if I close my hand? We say, ‘The bird will be crushed and die.’” Then he smiled and said, “An intimate place is like my cupped hand, neither totally open nor totally closed. It is the space where growth takes place.”
This is how our loving Heavenly Father holds us; not so loosely that we might fall and suffer greater harm, nor so tightly as to crush us to death. Whether we’re facing a dire crisis, as I did several weeks ago in undergoing unexpected, emergency brain surgery, or just struggling somewhere along our spiritual journey, we remain in His caring, protective, providential hands.
And when our last breath in this life is about to be taken, His hands will be there to welcome into our eternal home. I’m not a tattoo person, but some weeks ago Sam, son of a delightful man I had the privilege of mentoring for a number of years, got a tattoo uniquely designed as a tribute to his dad after his passing: It’s an image of someone walking through the gates of Heaven about to be received by the hands of God. Probably for the first time in my life I thought, “Now that is one beautiful tattoo!”
So as we step into another calendar year, not knowing what the future may hold, we can do so with confidence, knowing we’re being held in the all-powerful, yet loving hands of the Lord.