When I was a child, my mother used to rub my head as I leaned on her lap. Immediately I would feel some warmth running across my back head. Then beyond the massaging, some sense of security and relief would overwhelm my mind. The depth of the attachment I developed with my mother then is always beyond comparison with any relationship I developed with people. It was such warmth that I felt at home, secure from any harm whatsoever.When I think of Deuteronomy 33.27, it is this sense of gentle hands that it reminds me. “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” The rough roads of life I pass through always nag me. Their bumpy nature robs my attention till I go far enough. This lack of fulfillment, the sense of loss in things I took dearly, always haunt my memory, and a sense of failure or un-attainment grabs me. When burdened by this assessment of what the world has to offer, how embarrassed I become. Then suddenly, the memory or rather the reminder of things spiritual wakes me up to the attention of God’s realness. The fresh energy to live on resurges in my life. The remembrance, that the embrace of God is all that makes life meaningful dawns on me in the fashion of the embrace under the tender hands of my mother.
After some years when I see my little brother relaxing under the same rubbing of his head by my mother, I sense the chemistry of the power of “love” underway. This seemingly naive aimless moving of the hands is doing something the most powerful powers can hardly do. The tender hands are forging the most lasting of human relationships, the motherly love. In a sense my brother is being charged with energy that sustains him in this world’s cruel indifference.
It is these tender hands that switch my attention to my relationship with the Lord. When the sturdy nature of life in this world sups my energy, I feel like I have come to the verge of a dead-end. The entire world seems like falling over me and me hardly able to find my escape. The gasp for breath is a struggle. It is as though the world would end. It is as though someone is grabbing the neck aiming to block oxygen from making into my lungs. That is how it feels when purpose and hope desert you. Aimlessly you look the days passing by. Time seems to rush with no value attached to it. And you feel you are nearing the end of you life. Your days numbered you would rather have Joshua’s faith to stay the sun from hurrying to its east. You would rather rewind the good days and freeze them to last eternity. Alas! The spinning of the clock is beyond your majesty. Time defies you, and the order of the stars moves on ignorant of your wishes. Thus I find myself lost in the dos and don’ts of my complex life.
But, then as I succumb to the desperation of my crying for the help, swift help comes out of nowhere. As I would crawl in my childhood to my mothers lap, sobbingly I would make my case heard before the throne of grace. I witness some tender hands lifting me up. I sense gentle rubbing over my back head. Psychologists would call my case the third need in Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. May be, but the reality of some keeping hands in the end is sure, and the surprising nature is the fact that they are “a very present help in time of need”. For sure the gentleness of them captures your every downward energy. As the Lord roars like a lion, as my redeemer treads the clouds, moves the mountains and declares victory, my calamity vanishes, my anguish flees and death crawls away in the face of my helper, the Almighty.
King David must have been well advanced in the experience of these keeping hands. Throughout his psalms he never ceases to mention God as his refuge. It is almost impossible to live in this world as human being without psychological shelter. The world though physically the most hospitable planet is spiritually the most dangerous place to live in. There are all things there to pull you down to despair. In as much as you struggle to live fairly and try hard to make things good with the best you can, calamity around seems to grow more. In such engagement with life around, David’s lot was always bringing him heartaches. His very life seemed to be falling apart. But the towering morale of David grew all the more thanks to the unfailing hands of his God.
In the midst of heart-aching turmoil we must know how to crawl to the embrace of the Living God. For this the experienced David had something to say concerning lifelong calamities and his daring dependence on God. He says “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” (Psalms 91:4 NIV) Many of us know how it feels to be in the crises of life, especially when we lost all we relied on. These moments are when we needed a lot of stuff. But when we are hanged on between heaven and earth, it is hard for helping hands to appear. That is when men deserted us. This situation recurred in David’s life.
To those of us who may be passing through tough moments there are “the feathers” and “the wings” which typify the gentle hands of God. To me it is the hands and lap of my mother magnified manifold. When my distress in the midst of life calamities threatens to chock me, “the everlasting hands” prove “a very present help.” And I agree with the Psalmist in declaring the fact that,
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust."
Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
- Psalms 91.1-3
I was watching a video clip featuring artistic imagination of Todd Agnew’s song Isaiah 6 with love. The clip is full of angelic wings and feathers with white clouds. Roughly it imagines the tenderly embrace of the Lord, the spiritual rest experienced as you resign to the Lord’s refuge. I remember one day when I fell in a fateful danger for my life. My all hope withered as I recounted the future I was getting in. I felt like I was in a coffer, no way out everything seemed to tell. In my distress I completely knelt before the Lord and succumbed to a life and death prayer. When I concluded that I am in a test of my life under the devil’s messengers, a sudden light glistened out of the blue. In just a twinkle, all things changed, Miracle I called it. The swift, the very present help of the Lord visited me. And I am now counting my blessings naming them one by one!
I can safely say that I tested “the everlasting arms” which snatched me off the enemy’s teeth. Now I know what the Apostle Paul means when he said he was “always in danger”. The difference between life and death is just as thin as a breath. And all that has held it from failing is the covenant of God’s “gentle hands”. When man boasts, when the pride of life eats away the hearts of men, when man runs the race of things mundane, he forgets the fact that life is but a moment’s blink. It is but the merciful endurance of the Living God that has kept the world from falling apart. But as for me I know that I have to always be mindful of the “keeping hands” of Almighty God. Trust is all I do for I tested the embrace and the rubbing of my head with the gentle hands of love.
Amanuel ,August 2007
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