Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about what it would feel like to hold hands with God, not metaphorically, but literally.
Jesus grabbed Peter’s hand when he was sinking under water. Can’t you see Jesus’ grip with angled bones, muscles and tendons straining to pull his friend out of the dark deep into the boat? To Peter, Jesus’ hand was solid rescue.
Jesus took a blind man’s hand and led him out of the city where he could heal without making a scene. Picture Jesus holding the man’s hand, guiding him with a tweak, a little pressure here and there, steadying him when he trips.
The blind man saw with his hands, not his eyes. What might his hand have seen palm to palm with Jesus’ hand?
When they left the village behind, Jesus placed his hands over the man’s eyes to heal them. I wonder if that felt like light?
In February, we woke up to day after day of cold wet weather. Last week, the sun sprang up and broke the siege with glorious sunshine. The heat felt so delicious on my eyelids that I lay with my arms spread on the hot driveway’s concrete, radiated from above and below.
That’s what I try to imagine, when I think of Jesus’ holding my hand, but I’m on the edge, hovering just out of reach. Like casting about for a forgotten name, I search my history, my memories, for the sensation of holding hands, so that I can dream what Jesus’ hand over mine must feel like.
Herds of belt buckles and booted legs pass us in the crowded hall circling the coliseum at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo. My hand is too small to curl around his, but Big Bill’s hand encompasses mine, and I know I won’t be knocked aside and lost.
Big Bill’s hands are built hands exuding capability. Cedar posts and barbed wire, bags of cake cattle feed, huisache thorns, and rope, roughen Big Bill’s hands. They are as warm as an electric heating pad, and the heat runs up my arm and encases my small body.
At the ranch, his hands cover mine, pulling the fishing pole backwards over my shoulder, then whipping it forward and releasing the Zebco’s white button at the magical moment. The red and white bobber arcs and plops on the pond, sending echoes of its landing. Only a hand on top of another could communicate the nuanced timing of releasing the line.
His hand covers mine as I sight down the 22 barrel. His finger teaches mine how to squeeze not pull the trigger, and the bean can flips off the log.
I step in his cupped hands, and he boosts me high onto a saddle. His fingers tuck the leather reins in mine and bend my hand right, left, and back, instructing me how to turn, stop and back the horse.
His hands carry me out of the clinic stitched up after being impaled on a broken lattice.
And I’m pretty sure it’s his hand that whacks my behind when the cattle hounds push through the screened door where I stand.
I close my eyes reliving my child-hand in Big Bill’s hand. That must be what it feels like to hold hands with Jesus.
His hand is not marble or paper. His hand is flesh. I feel his pulse and scars. His fingers shift and squeeze. I lean my cheek against the back of his hand. Yes, I feel its warmth. He is here. His hand is as real and alive as Big Bill’s hand was.
Big Bill is inaccessible now, but Jesus’ hand is real and present.
Not only is he present with me, but I picture him holding the hands of people I love. Those scenes bring a flood of relief. Nothing is able to snatch them or me from his hand.
Then I think of people I love who may not know the touch of Jesus’ hand, who maybe don’t want to know his touch.
Because of the nature of their illness, lepers were forbidden to come near people. For the same reason, people steered clear of lepers, yet Jesus extended his hand and touched a leprous man. Imagine that! This sick man, barricaded from reaching out, hadn’t felt the touch of another human in who knows how long, until he felt the touch of God reaching out to him.
I yank on Jesus’ hand, pulling, dragging on the ground. O God, won’t You reach out to those I love who cannot reach out to You?
Jesus took the hand of a boy writhing on the ground with demons and the hand of a dead girl and pulled them both upright, healing them. Neither child was capable of volition, but God reached down to them.
I don’t hear God’s answer as to whom he will extend his hand. For now, I rest my hand in Jesus’ hand and allow him to speak to me through this medium. I savor his substance and vitality, content to walk through a mundane day aware of my connection to His presence. Joined with him, I choose the better, wait more patiently and confidently, and am more likely to slip my hand into another’s hand and make it a threesome or maybe even a hundredsome.
What story is writing itself in your life right now? Do you feel the water rising up to your chin? Are circumstances blocking or muddling your sight? Do you feel isolated and lonely? Or, is life bursting in bloom around you?
Whatever your situation, close your eyes and imagine the heft and strength of Jesus’ warm hand around your own. He will be your companion through the tempest and the tranquil.
With Jesus holding one hand, may I have your other?
Psalm 73:23 I am continually with you; you hold my right hand.”
Psalm 139: 5,10 Mark 10:16 Matthew 14:31 Matthew 8:3 and 8:15 Psalm 27:34 John 10:28 Mark 1:40-42