I once heard a story about a preacher, who began a sermon by saying, “Look at your hands.” The preacher’s point was our hands tell the story – or part of it – of our lives. I didn’t hear the sermon. I don’t know who the preacher was, or when or where the sermon was preached, or even the Scripture he was preaching. But, the idea of my hands revealing something of my life’s story is intriguing.
We live our lives through our hands. We work with our hands. We prepare food with our hands. We do chores with our hands. We play with our hands. We write or type with our hands. We carry stuff with our hands. We can touch lovingly with our hands, or strike out with them. We can serve with our hands. We clap our hands and snap our fingers. And, everyone’s hands are unique.
My hands include 10 unique fingerprints, unlike any others in the world.
I have large hands. I can easily palm a basketball. I suppose my large hands are proportional to the rest of me.
On my right palm, there’s a black dot, from the time Eric Orlang accidentally stabbed my hand with a #2 pencil in the 3rd grade.
My left pointer finger has a long scar, right at the last joint, where I cut myself attempting to carve a cross out of a piece of iron wood. Probably, starting a new carving hobby with “iron” wood wasn’t the best choice. I spent that day at Duke Hospital getting stitches, which culminated with fleeing on foot, because there was an armed shooter hiding from the police somewhere in the hospital!
That same finger is somewhat crooked from a separate injury related to martial arts. It’s been whacked with a stick countless times, and it shows.
If you take a close look at my finer nails, you might notice two things. First, my nails and cuticles are always a bit ragged, indicating I might have an issue with stress. Or, after a day in the yard, you might find I haven’t sufficiently cleaned out the dirt beneath my nails.
When I played guitar more regularly, I had nice callouses on my fingertips. Lately, they’ve gotten soft.
And speaking of soft, my soft hands likely indicate I have a desk job, and don’t do too much physical labor.
My wedding ring, and the white untanned line hidden beneath, indicates I’m taken – just ask my wife! I suppose my choice of rings says something about me too.
If you look carefully at the base of my palms, you’ll see wrinkled scars from carpel tunnel surgery.
Some claim they can supposedly “read palms.” I have no idea what they might read on mine!
And, this time of year, when the weather is so nice, and I’m riding my motorcycle more, you might notice my hands getting darker (especially compared to my white belly, which never sees the light of day).
Obviously, there’s more to my life, and yours, than the condition of our hands. But, the scars, in particular, are reminders of past injuries, and potentially, hopefully healing.
I wonder about Jesus’ hands. Did he have scars from his years of doing carpentry with Joseph? Were they rough after years of physical labor? He certainly used them a lot to heal and comfort people. The only detail we get from the Bible is that his resurrected hands still bore the nail-scars of his crucifixion.
His hands must have been gentle, as he welcomed little children onto his lap. His hands must have been strong, from years of carpentry work. They must have been olive-complected, reflecting his Jewish humanity. They were certainly scarred by the nails of crucifixion and sacrificial death.
What story do your hands tell? What stories do your scars – on your hands, and elsewhere – tell of God’s healing, restoring work in your life.
Look at your hands. What do you see?