“Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us; And confirm for us the work of our hands; Yes, confirm the work of our hands.”
“Mama, hold on to me. I don’t want you to fall.”
Joel and I were recently walking down cobbled roads on the way to purchase groceries at a local store. Bags in hand, list in pocket, we ventured out on a crisp day breathing in the vibrant color of the trees and leaves swirling by our sidewalk.
At way over six feet tall, he is a strong figure of a man, wiling his way through life composing sublime heart-stirring music, writing articles, books and a phd, conducting choirs, and mounting up over the constant demands of life. But this day, he was my little boy, still, my Joel. But now, he is the one protecting me, taking my hand, giving me life, keeping me from falling.
All those years I held his hand from babyhood. Now he holds mine with the same kind of protective love. Hands bless, comfort, give life and for me, bring love. Even as I write this, I remember how far back hands have communicated something to my heart. I remember how my own mother’s hands, all the way back to early childhood were also a symbol to me of love.
Maybe your hands are weary today as you pat heads, fold clothes, stir soup, and scrub dishes. But the work your hands are doing is priceless work, work your children will remember.
As I look back to the memories of my childhood, a strong image that comes to my mind is that of my mother's loving hands. I thought they were the most beautiful in the world.
In many ways, I still feel that way. Because I had been a premature baby, I was often sick with a variety of respiratory illnesses, including chronic asthma and occasional bouts with pneumonia. My memories of these illnesses, however, are mostly pleasant, because my mother would gently stroke my brow as she talked softly or told me stories and gave me her full attention. I remember feeling very loved from such focused attention.
At other times, when I fidgeted in church services, I remember my mother's hands massaging my own, pulling and squeezing each of my fingers as she quietly played finger games with me. As a young child, sitting next to her in a big overstuffed chair, I would watch her hands as she read to me from an oversized children's book. Her fingers would point to the enticing, heart-delighting pictures and turn the pages of the large volumes as we leisurely sat together and talked and read.
And during the period when I was having a recurring nightmare—one I still remember!—I especially remember the comfort of my mother's hands when she came to my bedside. She would take my hand in hers as she knelt to pray with me, soothing away my fears and comforting me as she entreated God to take all of my bad thoughts away.
Now, many, many years removed from my mother and almost a decade after her death, these memories of my mother's hands are still strong in my heart. Those hands grew old and wrinkled and aching with arthritis, yet still, as an adult, I often wish for those hands to be active once again in my life. How I long for the ways she would stroke my brow in the midst of illness and exhaustion, to massage away the frustration and boredom of tedious days, to open windows to the world while reading to me in a big old chair, and to take my hand in prayer and cast away all the fears of my life. The touch of a mother's hand and the power of a mother's love indeed has carried me through many moments of my life.
As I look to the needs of children of today, I am convinced they need the same things from their mothers that I needed—and received—from mine. They need not only the gentle touch of a mother's hands, but her focus and her attention on a daily basis. They need a champion and a cheerleader, someone who has the time and energy to give encouragement along life's way and comfort in dark times. They need a directive voice to show them how to live.
These needs are not frivolous demands. They're part of the way God designed children. And meeting those needs is not an option or a sideline for mothers, but part of his design as well.
I do not have her hands anymore, but I have the hands of my adult children who have become to me a comfort of gentle love these last years. Especially since my eye accident last year, they are all more protective.
But as I was remembering my mama’s touch and soothing affection, I realized how fortunate that I was to have had her use them so effectively in my life. How I wish for just an hour when I would have her eyes looking at me with love, her hands squeezing and massaging my own, and her voice of approval and affection. Just one more time with my mama.
But the memories still carry me now, knowing that she had to make choices to give me these memories--choices to "see" me when she could have been distracted or busy with her demanding life. Today, I am going to reach out to all of my own adult children because I want them to have one more moment and touch of my mama love.
May you understand the power of your hands to lay roadways of love in the memories of your children today, and know that you are making a difference.