God's Hands

Reading: Psalm 31.1-5,15-16
A man was hiking in the Swiss Alps. His experienced Swiss guide was leading him along a narrow ledge. A steep face rose above them on the left; on the right, a steep drop. There was no turning back.

As they rounded a corner, the man saw a gap in the ledge up ahead. The way forward seemed to be quite blocked.

The guide was undeterred. He nimbly jumped across the gap, then knelt down and placed his cupped hands in the middle. "Come on," he said. "Itís safe to step across on my hands. These hands have never let anyone down!"

Well... the guide was human. A time would come when the strength and reliability of these trusty hands could no longer be relied on.

As we read Psalm 31, we know that David was in some sort of strife. Exactly what it was isnít clear. His enemies have set a trap for him, and heís not at all sure he has strength left to face it all.

But he is trusting in the Lord. He takes refuge in him (v. 1). He looks to the Lord as his "rock of refuge" and "strong fortress" (vv. 2,3). He finds safety "in the shelter of [Godís] presence" (v. 20). Twice in this Psalm he refers to Godís "hands".

"Into your hands I commit my spirit" (v. 5a). We hear these words much later on the lips of Jesus (Lk. 23.46). They were his last words on the cross.

We read the crucifixion story with the resurrection in mind - as if it all just happened as a matter of course. And yes, Jesus had said he would die and rise again. He had committed himself to drink the cup of suffering and was now depending on the Fatherís hands - to take care of him, to raise him to life again. "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit."

"My times are in your hands" (Ps. 31.15a). Having committed his spirit into Godís hands, David is confident that the whole course of his life is safe with God.

We have many points of impatience throughout our lives. Life is either too fast or too slow. We even wish we could do some of it over again - differently. And when the time comes for dying, the euthanasia lobby want it over and done with as quickly as possible.

But dying is too important for that. Itís the final preparation for the next stage of the journey God has for us.

"Into your hands I commit my spirit." "My times are in your hands." Godís hands have never let anyone down who has truly and sincerely come to him for help, who has truly depended on him.

These are both important prayerful affirmations. We need to apply them to all our human experience - our living as well as our dying.

Prayer: Father, into your hands we commit our spirit.We are depending on you for our whole life - for protection and well-being, for forgiveness and meaning, for guidance and motivation. Lord, our times are in your hands. Teach us to live with patient, joyful expectation. Enable us to bring patience, comfort and courage to others wearied by their life experience. We put our hands in yours, that we may be your hands to others too. In Jesusí name, Amen.

In Your Hands

Never hands
so strong and sure
as Jesusí hands.

Never words
so good and true
as Jesusí words.

Never life
so fully lived
so fully given
as Jesusí life.

the Fatherís will,
to the Fatherís hands,
raised in power -
the Son of God.

my spirit,
my times,
are in your hands.
I put my hands
in yours
to reach out
and be
your hands
to those in need.

© Peter J. Blackburn, Burdekin BlueCare Devotions, 23 April 2002.
Except where otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are from the New International Version, © International Bible Society, 1984.

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