God’s Unchanging Hands: An Advent Meditation
By Bishop Earnest Lyght, Retired UMC Bishop
There is something special about our hands, perhaps because of the many ways in which humans use their hands to perform a variety of tasks. The hand can convey sensitivity and it can exert power. In football every coach has a hands team consisting of wide receivers and tight ends. They are called into service when there is an onside kick so that they can recover a short kick from the opponent. The hands team includes mainly receivers because they are accustomed to handling the ball, especially a bouncing football.
While my mother’s hands were gentle and soft to the touch, Dad's hands were big and somewhat rough from hard work. Mom’s hands would knead the dough and shape yeast rolls. Her hands would stir the batter for our birthday cakes and prepare the hot meals that we enjoyed so much. Her hands would wash the clothes, then hang them on the clothesline to dry, and finally iron them. Her hands would comfort us when we were sick or in pain, as long as there was no bleeding.
When we had a wound or ache, we always went to Dad who would render the needed first aid. Dad’s hands would plant a large garden annually, harvest the produce, and prepare the same for canning, freezing or a meal. When necessary, his hands would discipline us too. I remember well that both Mom and Dad had praying hands. Their hands conveyed their love for their children.
There are no hands, however, like God’s hands. Jennie B. Wilson expressed this faith reality in her hymn, Hold to God’s Unchanging Hand. The first verse says:
"Time is filled with swift transitions,
Naught of earth unmoved can stand,
Build your hopes on things eternal,
Hold to God’s unchanging hand."
The refrain in part says, “Build your hopes on things eternal, Hold to God’s unchanging hand.” There are no hands like God’s hands.
When my siblings and I were bruised, we wanted Dad’s hands to fix the wound. If we were not feeling well or we were frightened of something, we wanted our mother’s hands to comfort us.
In these troubled times, framed by a worldwide pandemic, we need God’s hands. In the midst of life’s struggles, there is a God who knows “just how much we can bear.” That’s why we cry out to God and say: “Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on, let me stand.” We need God’s hands when we are feeling weak, worn out, and just plain tired. In all circumstances, we can depend on God, because we know that God’s hands are unchanging, kind, loving and gentle. Our God has got the whole world in God’s unchanging hands. Yes, Advent is in God’s hands.
Think About It!
Now, let’s prayerfully open our heart and hands, and hold onto God’s unchanging hand during this Advent Season and beyond.