Summary: Follow the hands of Jacob, as they are involved in taking (because of his insecurity), in working for that which does not satisfy, but finally, in giving, as a result of their having wrestled with God. An appeal to struggle with God’s will.
Last week I began by giving you an eye test and an ear test. I wanted to help you discover that sometimes we don’t see what there is to see and we don’t hear what there is to hear. But God provides us vision and offers His word to help us with the “too much” in our world.
Today I want to examine your hands, and then I want to exercise those hands. First, let’s just look at our hands. What do you see? Dirt under the fingernails? What were you working on this week? Maybe you see the ravages of time -- arthritic joints? Liver spots? Parchment skin? How long have these hands in service? Maybe you see evidence of work – dishpan red, calluses from holding tools; or maybe you see adornments – a wedding ring, an engagement ring, a wristwatch – reminders of commitments. Maybe you see the marks of injury – part of a finger missing, cuts and scratches still healing. Your hands.
I’m looking for George Winfield’s and Pedro Hart’s hands. What an incredible number of small, complex, precise movements those hands make to give us music! I think of artists who can paint portraits or craftsmen who can build beautiful objects. What our hands can do!
Hands are a large part of our humanness. I have on my shelves a book simply called, The Hand. It’s a book about human development. The author shows how the human hand is the interpreter of the way we have evolved. We have what is called an “opposable thumb.” That means that each of our fingers can open and close on the thumb, so that we can hold on to things. Without thumbs, without fingers, without the hand as we have it, we couldn’t do much. We couldn’t use tools, we couldn’t lift weights; we couldn’t wave good-bye, or, the ultimate sacrifice, we couldn’t use a computer! Wouldn’t that be painful for some of us cyber-nuts!?
Hands. How do we present our hands to God? What can we do with this most beautiful, most versatile of all our body parts? And what does God want from our hands?
I invite you today to look with me at the diagram of the hand that is in the bulletin. It’s taken from the discipleship course called MasterLife. Some of you have studied this before. It’s a little device called “God’s Word in Your Heart and in Your Hand”. It helps you understand how you may grasp God’s word.
Now while you still have your hands free, would everybody get a book – a Bible or a hymnal, it won’t matter – and let’s try something.
Hold the book with two fingers – one of them your thumb, then any other finger. Just the two, no more. Turn to your neighbor and see if she or he can pull the book loose, and you see if you can pull his or her book loose. Aha! By now everybody should have somebody else’s book. You cannot hold on very well with just two fingers, even though one of them is that opposable thumb.
If I were to take the time, we could keep on adding fingers to see if it gets any easier to hold on – three fingers, four fingers. We won’t take that kind of time, but I will ask you to do this: hold on tight with all five fingers. Get a good grip with everything you’ve got; and now turn to your neighbor and try the same thing as before. Pull at his book! Let her tug at yours! Can you get his book? Did she get your book? Maybe so, but it wasn’t so easy, was it? There’s a much better grasp if every finger is at work.
So, with that in mind, may I just show you what we know about grasping God’s word? The diagram, “God’s Word in Your Heart and in Your Hand”. First, we hear God’s word; that’s the simplest, first step – somebody tells us what God’s word says. You come to church and you listen to a sermon; you go to class and hear a teacher. That’s a start. But you cannot possibly grasp God’s word just from hearing it.
Next, then, over here on the opposable thumb, you think about God’s word. The sermon does not just wash over you like a quick thunderstorm; you actually think about what you are hearing. As Pogo Possum put it, “Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits.” Well, you begin to grasp the word of God if as you sits, you also thinks. But what did we learn a moment ago? Two fingers won’t hold much.
So, back over here to your ring finger, something strikes your imagination, and you begin to examine God’s word. You delve into it for yourself, and you read it. You knock the dust off the family Bible, and you get its words for yourself. Adding examining to hearing and thinking, you can almost grasp God’s truth.