Are You Holding God’s Hand—or Is He Holding Yours?

young couple holding hands while walking down a railroad track

Two young children decide to take a walk together across an empty field near their backyards, holding each other’s hand. Then a gander and several geese suddenly burst forth through a broken portion of a back fence. One child notices that two of the geese have become stuck in part of the damaged section of the fence. He is concerned, and a little too eager to help them. He pulls the other child along, very noticeably against her will, in the direction of the noisy new arrivals. But as the children approach closer, the geese—out of fear—manage to get themselves free. Then, with no warning, the ever-vigilant and protective gander races toward the children, its beak angrily honking and snapping at them. They both run back to their homes, screaming and crying—quite scared and upset!

Two lovers casually stroll alongside a foggy, secluded lake. The young man gently holds the girl’s hand as they approach a narrow footbridge stretching over a wide canal that feeds the lake. They cross the waterway quickly, but the young couple becomes detached when the girl is distracted and lets her hand slip out of her boyfriend’s grasp. With her hands now by her side, she feels lost, her heart filled with longing and emptiness. With fog drifting across the bridge now between them she is confused, unsure whether to go forward, or to wait, or to turn back. The young man is now far ahead and out of sight. But then she hears him calling out to her, and runs toward him. In just a few minutes, she approaches him as he eagerly reaches for her with his arm stretched out. She leaps forward with a quick bound, and slides her hand back into his grasp. Then he gently but firmly clasps his hand around hers, pulling her along as they reach the other side of the lake. Back on the path again, they resume their casual walk around the lake hand-in-hand, the girl now wiser and willing to be more dependent on the young man than she was before.

A middle-aged man stumbles around in the middle of a congested downtown street corner after sunlight reflecting off a window temporarily blinds him. He tries to find his way himself, but has to resort to calling out for help. Some think he’s crazy. Others laugh at him, that is, until he heads toward the curb at Forty-Fifth Street where traffic is moving rapidly in both directions. Some scream and yell when they see where he’s headed. Others quickly turn away, unwilling to watch the impending disaster unfold. But one older gentleman ignores everyone and takes the initiative. He quickly and carefully grabs the man’s hand, while coaxing and leading him away from the maddening flow of vehicles. At this point, all the blinded man really needs to do is to keep his hand in the hand of the other man, remaining fully dependent on him until he is safe.

In their zeal to please God, many people are eager to solve the problem that has just arisen by themselves, like the child who wanted to free the geese, but gave no thought to what the consequences might be.

They are willing to let God hold their hand, but instead of waiting on Him when an unexpected circumstance arises, they end up rushing ahead. As a result, they grab God’s hand and try to pull Him along with them, contrary to His will and plan for their lives. They want to help so much that they end up ahead of Him, and in dangerous places. Twice God warns about such actions: There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 14:12 and 16:25). But Psalm 25:5 says: “Lead me in Thy truth, and teach me: for Thou art the God of my salvation; on Thee do I wait all the day.” And in Psalm 27:14: “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.”

There are others who love the Lord dearly, but tend to become easily distracted in their relationship with Him. Like the girl who crossed the bridge with the young man, they let their hand slip out of His as He moves on and they are left behind.

They become confused as to which direction to go next. Their heart still desires Him, but their mind is caught up with something else. They become disoriented and try to figure out their next step without Him. Before long, they cry out in despair—until His voice can be heard after a while in the distance calling to them. Then they race toward Him, and place their hand back into His outstretched hand. So often we think God has left us behind to figure out our way on our own. Yet the opposite is true. We let go of His hand and no longer keep up with Him. Nevertheless, God promised us in His word that He will not abandon us. “…the Lord, He it is that doth go before thee; He will be with thee, He will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed” (Deuteronomy 31:8).

Finally, there are those who, for one reason or another, are not able to spiritually perceive the way before them. They know where they need to go, but are not able to get there safely on their own.

They grope around, hoping to find the right path so they can go forward on it. They know dangers are all around them, yet they can’t fully perceive where they are to avoid them. They need the help of one who knows the road ahead and can discern the perils all around. The Bible alludes to their answer in Isaiah 42:16: “…I [God] will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.”

If you are a child of God, where is your hand today? Is it firmly clutched around His hand, ready to pull Him along your way? Or is it gently resting in His, the same Hand that “…leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3)? Perhaps your hand is by your side, nowhere near Him. So often in our desire to obey God and His Word, we lose track of where we should place our hand. We cannot let distractions keep our hand out of His. Neither can we lead Him along by trying to place His hand in ours. God wants us dependent on Him. This is the day for you to decide to put your hand into His and keep it there—trusting Him from now on to safely lead you every step of the way on the path He has chosen for you,. Then you will experience the peace, satisfaction and assurance that only He can bring into your life.

[Image credit: pixabay.com]

New Year, Same Sin

At the beginning of each new year, it is the same old thing: a large majority of us want to improve some area of our life. Almost everywhere we look, from gyms to retail stores and restaurants, even to financial institutions, like banks, investment firms, and tax preparers, there are promotions of some kind regarding a new outlook on life. Churches and ministries are now getting in on the trend with various programs to revitalize and enhance us physically and spiritually. Most follow the tagline of ‘New Year, New You’ or some other variant. Yet, with all of these means in place to assist us, why do we still need them all over again next year and each successive year thereafter?

The key lies with something that each and every one of us has to deal with all of the time. It is called sin. No matter what effort we take to hide or overcome it, sin will always be there. In essence, sin is disobedience to God’s Word. It is also something that keeps us from entering into God’s Kingdom. God cannot tolerate any sin, even the tiniest amount.

Sin brings us into a period of pleasure while we are committing it, and then leaves us in a state of emptiness, despair, and disappointment afterward.

Therefore, we are never satisfied with just one act of sin. We continually seek more and greater ways to sin in order to reach a point of gratification.

Sin escalates while, at the same time, it degrades. Sin is never isolated to just the one who is sinning. Many feel that as long as it is hidden, then everything will be fine. Yet, whether the results are seen or not, our sin impacts some thing or someone else. From the rocks to the animals to the oceans to the sky, and everybody in between, the whole earth is ultimately affected by our sins. Since the time of Adam and Eve to the present time, the world has been steadily in decline. Every attempt throughout history to save this world from destruction has been nullified by our continual sin.

Nothing in our own efforts will solve the sin problem in our life or anyone else’s. While not all of our ills are directly caused by our sin, we are still impacted by it. Sin is like quicksand—the more you try to escape, the deeper you sink into it. It may not have hurt when you slipped in, and may not be painful while you are in it, but you still are descending slowly to your death.

The only solution to the sin problem is to turn to someone who is greater than sin itself.

We can’t get out of the quicksand through some self-help program or a fitness or dietary regime. No amount of financial planning or seminars will help. We might be able to stay afloat for an extended period of time, but it is not until we grab hold of a lifeline, like someone’s hand or the equivalent, that our rescue is possible.

That ultimate help is Jesus Christ. He is the only one qualified to deliver us from the hold and finality of sin. He willingly left His place in Heaven and came to this sinful earth to rescue us. He took all of the sins of the world – past, present and future – upon Himself and was crucified on a cross so to pay for them so that we could be free. He paid a penalty that was impossible for us to pay on our own. He gave us the means to come before God through Him. When we acknowledge and accept the sacrifice He made for us as our own, ask for forgiveness of our sins, and allow Him to live in our heart and life, then He will pull us out of the grip of sin. His blood shed for us will cover our sins, never more to be seen by God.

Not only are our sins removed, but we are given a whole new nature—one that is no longer bent toward sinning and desiring the sinful ways of this world.

Instead of trying to make ourselves better each year by our own strength and efforts, we just need to yield to Jesus and turn our concerns over to Him, “casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7). Only He can bring about real success and change in our life—when we let Him. Won’t you do it today?

For more direction on how to let God remove the sin in your life click here.

Fixated on the Master’s Hand

An older man in Elizabethan period dress looking outside from a doorway

If you dine out at a fine restaurant, you will usually find that the person who waits on you will be extremely attentive to your dining needs. Drop a fork or knife, and your server will appear almost immediately, replacement in hand. When the level of the beverage in your glass begins to run low, your server is already present, refilling your glass or exchanging it for another previously filled before even a word has been spoken. Should a question or need arise on your part, a simple glance in the server’s direction will be all that is necessary to bring him or her to your assistance. It seems like the server’s eye is constantly on you. If you are a regular patron there, the wait-staff might even have become so knowledgeable and observant of you that your movements, your habits—your very body language—will attract their presence so that there is no need for an additional indication from you.

This is not limited to a restaurant only. In the home of someone of significant wealth or stature, there is usually a butler or trained employee who is so focused on the commands of the owner of the house that they are able to immediately and discreetly detect the signaling of their employer’s hand and its meaning. The signal might be as simple as a raised, bent index finger indicating that a particular dish is cold and needs to be replaced. Or the hand could be uplifted slightly to the left, signaling for a particular hat or coat. Whatever the indicator used, the servant is always fixated on the employer, remaining ready to fulfill any upcoming request or need at once.

This is the concept the psalmist was referring to in Psalm 123: “Unto thee lift I up mine eyes, O thou that [lives] in the heavens. Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the Lord our God…” (Psalm 123:1,2). But for many, their eyes do not remain focused on the Master, even though they genuinely have the desire to please Him. They allow themselves to be distracted, looking at something or someone else when they should be attentive to His call, no matter how small. As a result, they miss the subtle cues and indicators that they should have noticed and responded to at once.

When Peter, one of Jesus’ closest disciples, had his eyes focused on Christ, he actually walked on the water one time to meet Him. “But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me” (Matthew 14:30). He allowed himself to be distracted by the stormy wind and took his eyes off of the Master. He was doing fine before, but it was then that he began to sink.

A man in linen garment holding a portion of fishing net in hands

In our relationship with Jesus, we need to be constantly looking to Him in order to reach the point that we know just what He wants us to do. We cannot allow ourselves to become spiritually inattentive to His needs and desires. Just imagine how we would feel if we went into a posh restaurant and were ignored for a good portion of our visit. We sit and wait and wait for a server to take our order. Then several side dishes are delivered which are either incorrect or already cold. We raise our hand to signal the server, but only after a lot of vigorously waving do we finally catch the server’s attention. Our beverage glasses remain empty so long that all of the remaining ice has melted. We look forward to having dessert after the main meal, but the wait-staff is too busy or inattentive to even look our way. We very likely become angry and upset at this point, so we get up and leave the restaurant. After all of their initial efforts to please us and do what is right, the servers have allowed themselves to become distracted to the point that they have driven us away!

But how often have we as believers in Christ done this to our Master? We go to church, we read the Bible, we pray to God. Yet, in all our efforts to please Him, we have failed to keep our eyes continually attentive to the movement of His hand. He has subtly spoken to our hearts, but in our zeal to do what we think is right, we have missed it. Instead of just trying to do what is right before God, why don’t we go beyond that point and strive to reach the place where “our eyes wait upon the Lord our God”?

Lord, help us to be so close and established in our relationship with You that we are able to know and discern the meaning of every movement and indication of Your hand. Amen.

 

[Image credits: Tamas King/freeimages & Veronica Moore/freeimages]