So I will bless you as long as I live;
in your name I will lift up my hands.
Psalm 64:4 ESV
While the Bible tells us to lift up our hands, we rarely stop to think of why. Of course, we all would agree that we lift up our hands in praise, but here are a few others to consider. The first, is what we do what our teachers do while taking attendance. They call our name and like Isaiah when he saw the Lord, we cry out, “Lord here I am!”
Another is what we used to witness regularly when we lived in the inner city. This lifting of the hands happened when blue and red lights accompanied by sirens told us that someone was getting arrested on our block. After a shout of “Show me your hands!” another arrest gave assurance that someone had surrendered. Of course, Jesus doesn’t put a gun to our heads. Instead, our surrender is a result of His love breaking through hard hearts. We are glad to be taken into custody because we know that God has way better things in mind for us than we could imagine.
But one reason you might not have considered, is the one I discovered years ago when our children were small. After working a day that began before anyone in the house was even awake, I would wearily climb the stairs to our apartment, put the keys in the lock. Then, I would hear the pounding of little feet as our little two boys came running. As soon as the door opened, they would stretch up their hands shouting, “Daddy pick me up! Daddy pick me up!” How we need to remember this lifting of our hands to God. If we are worn out from carrying a heavy load, remember that Jesus is at our door right now. Or if we have failed miserably and are feeling ashamed, remember we are still in His house and we can always run to Him. He is with us to strengthen, forgive, comfort and light our way. So let’s lift up our hands to Him and cry, “Dady pick me up! Daddy pick me up!”
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 ESV
In August of 1882, Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture was first performed with live cannons( fortunately for the audience without the cannon balls!) In 1964 Peter Townsend of The Who carried things a bit further when he smashed his Rickenbacker guitar on stage. On the other hand neither of these compare to the moment that our sons laughingly refer to as, “Dad’s first crush.” It all happened one afternoon as I was rushing off to play for my friends at the nursing home. Being late, I rushed downstairs and out the door with guitar in hand, but minus my car keys. The lack of keys I noticed at the trunk of the car when I reached into my pocket and – tada!- no keys! So I leaned the guitar against the back of our car and raced back inside desperately looking for keys. After a few minutes I happily discovered them and, bounded down the stairs, and out to the car. In relief, I jumped in, started up our old Chevy and threw it into reverse. About half way down the driveway a loud crunching sound alerted me to a detail I had forgotten – my poor guitar!
Though I laughed a little as our two young sons joked with me, it was bittersweet, because back in those days the money for a new instrument was definitely not in our budget. But God had plans! Keeping the story quiet in church was impossible. Our boys couldn’t keep it a secret and especially since they thought it was hilarious! But after the service my friend Rocky quietly came up to me. “You know I wanted to learn guitar a few years ago, but gave up. I have a brand new Takamine in the closet. It’s yours if you need it.” No words were sweeter to me that day! I played that Takamine for 20 years before passing on to our younger son who decided he wanted to learn to play.
God has great plans for us, even when our hopes and dreams get crushed under our own car tires. He knows our needs and loves to provide them, especially when we expect them least!
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. James 4:8
Just as spiritually we need to ask for God’s forgiveness before we can go to work in His kingdom; so also we need to be careful this Winter about hand washing when we go into the nursing homes to visit. Just as having a selfish lifestyle taints everything we touch so we also need to be extra diligent when we are visiting with our friends in long term care.
Shaking hands or giving an occasional hug is an important part of what we do in nursing home ministry. Imagine the loneliness of living in a world where no one touches you without getting paid to do so? But to the normal concern of hygiene during this year’s flu season is the added alarm over the spread of the corona virus. What can we do as volunteers? One idea is to sit home huddled in our room with a box of hand sanitizing wipes until Spring. But imagine if all of the doctors and nurses took that approach! Our resident’s spiritual needs are no less important than their medical ones but as we go to our normal visits; there are some things we mustpay attention to.
These simple steps are not just a matter of routine. They may save a life. As I was taught we need to gel in and gel out with hand sanitizer when entering and leaving a residence hall. Secondly I am sure to wash with soap and warm water (Including my wrists) before leaving home and on my return. Last of all be sure to always ask the staff before entering individual resident’s quarters. I am a regular in room visitor to people however I have never gone in to pray, sing for or visit anyone without an invitation. That protects not only the residents but also yourself from unneeded risks. Here is a simple and fun video you can watch and share. Have a blessed day and don’t forget to wash those hands!
But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:14
Often lost in the whole pro-life/ pro-choice debate is the heart of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the defender of life but we must not be so focused on life beginning at conception; that we forget it doesn’t end at birth. In God’s eyes; life is not only about its opening chapter, but also about its closing lines. The same Savior, who writes down the name of every child in His book also offers to carry each of us in His arms to the very end. Where we stand on the issue of life is not only about what we say, but more importantly is about what we do. How we chose to invest our time and hearts in the lives of others will reap returns for all eternity. What better pro-life statement can we make than to serve the real people in our own small corner of this world from conception to their final breath?
Even to your old age, I am He, and even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you. Isaiah 46:4