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Those Hands.

May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us— yes, establish the work of our hands. Psalm 90:17

Establish: make labors effective and enduring.

Last Saturday, my husband and I served with Forgiven Prison Ministry This organization reconciles prisoners with their children despite their circumstances. Fueled by the love of Jesus and the power of forgiveness, fathers who may never have met their sons, mothers whose daughters formerly refused to talk with them, are granted the opportunity to interact during a One Day With God camp, 

See previous post about the ministry here. Only 8 Hours

A year ago during one of these day-long camps, I made the acquaintance of an inmate whose good behavior had earned him the privilege of serving the staff, volunteers, fellow prisoners and their children. While we stood shoulder-to-shoulder along the outskirts of the gym, my new friend spoke of his relationship with Jesus.

A sinner saved by grace. Just like me. 

And then his posture slunk a bit and he shifted his stance as he volunteered the reason he was incarcerated, his formerly jovial tone now marked by shame.

“I strangled my wife to death.”

You don’t say.

With one confession, I shared company with a murderer. This was no time to reference that Proverb about those things the Lord finds detestable…

“…hands that shed innocent blood…” (6:17b)

At this unsolicited revelation, I stiffened just a tad, slid a wary glance down to his mammoth hands that dangled at the end of long arms.

Gads. What does one say? I merely nodded, scrambling to recall my worst sin.

In short order, God helped me out….

There is no difference. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:22b-23

The whispered truth eliminated all difference between my foolish theft of candy from the drug store as a young girl and my friend’s choice to strangle his spouse to death. Because we’d both fallen short. If it weren’t for the grace and mercy of Christ’s death and resurrection, we’d each remain incarcerated by our sin.

With no release date.

During another One Day With God Camp last Saturday, I saw my friend again. He was smiling as always while he stood behind the refreshment table. I approached, shook his hand – those hands –  and he greeted me warmly.

In the afternoon, a correctional officer allowed him to enter a locked office within the gym. He reappeared with a camera. Taking the camera, he circled around the fathers who were engaged in a father-daughter dance to the tune of When Daddy Says I’m Beautiful...

Those hands that had once strangled his wife to death were, instead, serving cups of water and tea, gathering trash, and snapping photos of precious moments.

Those hands now serve with joy. Behind prison walls. No doubt God is establishing the work of those hands.

What have my hands done? Anybody’s life in a better place because of them?

Have they pointed out another’s sin, forgetting my own?

Have they served a meal to a hungry person?

Have they clutched coins more tightly when the offering plate is passed?

Are they open to receive? Or closed in a fist of resentment?

What are my hands, free as they are, doing today?

Here’s a sampling of scripture references about the use of hands:

~He (Jesus) took the children in His arms, put His hands on them and blessed them. Mark 10:16

Previously, Jesus had said, “If your hand causes you to sin, cut if off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. Mark 9:43

Talk about radical spiritual surgery.

~When the sun was setting, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, He healed them. Luke 4:40  

Why not just speak and heal? Rather Jesus used His hands to heal.

~And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul. Acts 19:11 (ESV)

~Let us lift up our hearts and our hands to God in heaven…Lamentations 3:41

~Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders… I Thessalonians 4:11-12

Like Jesus…like my friend…I desire the work of my hands to be pleasing and effective, that the Lord will look with favor on what I’ve done and allow the effect to far outlive the number of my days.

As you enter the weekend, what will be the work of your hands? Will God make it lasting and effective?


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