The Right Hand

“…Then He laid His right hand on me

And said,

‘Don’t be afraid! 

I am the first and the last, the living One.

I was dead,

But now I am alive forever.

I have the keys of death and hell.’”

Rev. 1:17-18 

John had been living in a forced exile and was nearing the end of his life when he had this experience with Jesus.  John had knownHim.  He had walkedwith Him.  He had spent yearswith Him, and had shared a close, loving relationship with Jesus in those years.  John had known Him well.

Yet, in his exile, loneliness, and all the memories which he held in his heart, he didn’t recognize this One he loved so much. John hadn’t humanly known Him in his present context.  He was suffering and alone.  John had communicated with God’s Angel before, but this would be different.  (Rev. 1:12-18)

Jesus came.   But not as John had experienced or known Him before.

Jesus’ tender, powerful words to John were unexpected. John was frightened.  It had been a long time since he had experienced any human tenderness . . . perhaps any human interaction at all.  He must have thought that his life was over. Everything revolved around memories . . . the past.

In the desert, my people there have taught me so many things that were not of my experience in the Western world.   There, the “right hand” has significance, on a daily basis.  The right hand is treated differently than the left.  It is the hand that touches another person.  The greeting of a hand-shake, the friendly touch on a shoulder, . . . these touches of affection are done with the right hand. The left hand is used for dirty tasks, and the friendly touch is not done with the left.  Respect is demonstrated by the use of the clean right hand.

The noted detail of Jesus laying His right handon John’s shoulder has meaning.  It silently expresses the touch of a Friend, with tenderness, respect, and affection.  John must have needed that touch.  He had been isolated. . . alone . . .for such a long time.  And Jesus was asking him to write the things He was about to show him.  Things belonging to the future that had not been revealed before.  John would have needed that unspoken reassurance from his dearly loved Friend as he took pen in hand and began to write.

Such kindness, tenderness, and respect Jesus wove into this Divine Encounter.

 

 

Open Hands

“She opens her hands to oppressed people

    and stretches them out to needy people.”

Prov. 31:20

Sitting in front of my laptop this morning, in a clean, comfortable hotel room, my thoughts are still in the desert, from which I am returning home. I still have sand in my suitcase. Clean, hot water coming out of the faucet in the sparkling clean bathroom – including a flush toilet – have become a piece of paradise in my mind.

Such little things we take for granted in our personal worlds. . . take on new meaning and appreciation when Life’s path leads you to a different world.

The richness of these simple things has become profoundly clear in my life, as it is in striking contrast to the world I step into a few times each year in my “other world”. . . the refugee camps in the Sahara. 

This morning, this verse from Proverbs jumped out to me.  It is part of a description of a woman, wife and mother from long, long ago.  I used to dread reading Proverbs 31, because it was full of reminders of how far short I fall in comparison to “Mrs. Perfect.”    But, in the middle of the stellar description of her, this little piece of the chapter seems to have greater depth and significance today.

Open hands. . . not a clenched fist.   What am I holding onto that I need to offer to someone else?  What am I clinging to?  What am I holding back – keeping for myself, that would make a sweet difference in someone else’s life?   Someone who has been “pushed down” in life . . . someone who has lost the things that used to be in their hands?  What have they lost due to the cruel actions of others?  What would it mean to them to be handed something that I have been holding onto? 

Stretched out hands. . . There is a choice to not only open my hands, but to physically move toward someone who has need.  It’s much easier to send a check or support someone who is actively involved with helping people who are in need. . . suffering in some way.  It’s another thing to physically interact and help meet a need – especially of a stranger.  

How do I view the oppressed people in my world?   What am I doing to personally touch the life of someone in need . . . in need of what I have?

Jesus remains our greatest Example. . . He was so often personally giving, serving, opening His Hands to those who were suffering.  Whether it was children, the sick, the rejected, the poor, the dirty, the diseased, the unloved, He opened His Hands to them.  He stretched out His Hands to touch them in a way that touched their personal need….that touched their very souls.

Doing Everything

“The Lord will do everything for me.

O Lord, your mercy endures forever.

Do not let go of what your hands have made.”

[ Psalm 138:8 ]

I need a lot of help.  With practically everything I’m doing these days.   Since my husband transferred to Heaven, I realize many times a day all that he had done for me each day.  Now that it’s all up to  me, I have become excruciatingly clear on all that he had taken care of for me.

How do I tap into this statement from David?   What does that look like….for the Lord to do everything for me?   What I am most in touch with are those practical, tangible, everyday needs of life….tasks….provisions….presence.   Everything?

There is no part of my life that He does not know.  Nothing is hidden.  Nothing is “too much”  for His awareness, mercy and care.

Is it a ticket to get everythingI want, or think I should have or deserve?  I don’t see any examples of that in His Word.  But, everything that truly matters in this life . . . in the perspective of Eternity, is within the parameters of “everything for me.”   As is true with children, they need a lot of help.  Yet, a loving parent senses when their “help” is doing their child no favors. The child will need to have the skills and experience to walk through life using the training they have been given from experiencing life on this planet.

Knowing that His Hands have made me, and that they will continue to hold me no matter what may come, is an amazing Mercy.  I am not immune to this fallen world’s affects.  But knowing that He is near…holding me…is the greatest Mercy I can imagine.  The natural cycle of life. . . learning to crawl, walk, and run will continue to repeat again and again.  But His Hands continue to be my cradle.

It has something to do with His Mercy.  A “forever” kind of Mercy….a Mercy that will last and go on without end.  Mercy is active in sparing us from experiences that would be beyond what we could bear.  Mercy is in the midst of experiences which make us feel that it’s just too much.  Yet, we survive and walk….stumble….crawl through them.  And the next time the unbearable happens, we look back on the last time, having survived it and come through it a bit stronger than before. That process goes on and on, gently creating in me a sense of His trustworthiness…His strength that never weakens….His Mercy that surrounds me in this world of sorrows, tragedies, and loss.

A cry from my heart calls out once again.  I grasp for His Hand… again.  I cling tightly to His Hand….the Hands that made me, formed my life, guided my steps, and strengthened me to move on. . .  one step at a time.

Kingdom

“But first,

be concerned about His Kingdom

and what has His approval.

Then all these things will be provided for you.”

Mtt.6:33 

It’s difficult for us, as people living in the Western Hemisphere, to begin to wrap our minds around what it means to live in a Kingdom.   Our nation’s very roots came out of a determination to live freely, independently of a kingdom that had always dictated the rule of life.  They established a new way of life, one which was “self-governing,” rather than under the rule of a king.  Independenceis an underlying rule of life for Americans.  And, of course, it also affects our understanding of all that a King is in all of his power, authority, rule, and majesty.

When we step into the Kingdom of God, we have the challenge of learning what it means to live in the Kingdom over which God is the King.  He isn’t the President of a democracy.  He is The King.

My first real exposure to a kingdom on this earth, and of an actual king, came through my experience in the desert refugee camps.  Through the decisions of a King and Kingdom, their country was militarily invaded, and their lives and future as a nation were forever changed.  The Saharawi people left their homes, neighborhoods, belongings, jobs, and all that encompassed their daily lives as they literally ran into the barren, harsh desert across their nation’s border. Everything changed.  All that had been, was no more.  A Kingdom had come, in all of its power and rule.

We have the King of all Kings invitingus into His Kingdom.  He does not come with force, even though His Power is far beyond all powers on this earth.  His Kingdom is perfect.  His rule is based on perfect Love, and is Just and True.  This King does not invade our lives by force.  He invites us into His Kingdom, having personally paid the cost for each of us to enter.  We are not required to earn our entrance into His Kingdom…it is offered freely.

What desert have you stepped into, where people wait to hear the Good News of a Perfect Kingdom, whose Perfect King invites them to enter and live?