These are the hands that held my newborn daughter.  They fit nicely in my husband’s much bigger hands.  When I was a little girl, my daddy held my hand as we walked across parking lots.  My teachers worked with me as I learned to use them to print, to write in cursive, to type, to press the “return” key at the end of every line.  My mom showed me how to use my hands to curl my hair, scramble eggs, chop onions, scrub bathtubs. Later I learned to use my hands to make biscuits, cookies, pancakes, bread, and other yummy treats.  I overcame my revulsion and now can stick my hand in the belly of a dead, raw chicken without flinching…well, without flinching too much, anyway.  These hands of mine brush my teeth, pull on socks, compose photos, and scrub counters.  Then, in the next minute, they pull an ever-growing teen into a hug, pat a doggy on the head, scratch my husband’s back.  They are indispensable….or so I thought.

Little by little I am losing the use of my hands, my wrists, and my elbows.  The things I used to take for granted…kneading biscuit dough, lifting a pot of water one-handed, taking a dish out of the oven, cleaning the countertops, picking a dropped pencil off the floor, throwing something in the trash can…these little tasks are no longer thoughtless for me.  Kneading biscuit dough causes pain in my elbows and wrists, and I no longer have the strength to press all the way through the dough.  I now must use two hands to lift a 2-quart pot of soup or a casserole dish, and doing so causes more pain.  Carrying in the groceries hurts.  Lifting a raw chicken is now a two-handed, yucky affair.  I must switch hands frequently when cleaning off my countertops because the pressing down action hurts too much. These changes have gradually slipped into my awareness.  It’s remarkable to me how my brain (or is it the Holy Spirit influencing my brain?) has made numerous accommodations for these activities without me even noticing.

I finally went to the doctor when I noticed a loss of sensation in my fingers.  The exam detailed what I’d already noticed…my fingers and my hands have markedly lost nerve function.  I also have some muscle wasting going on, which was news to me.  Now I’ve been referred to a neurologist for a nerve conduction study. My reading on THAT subject makes me wish I could go climb in my bed and never get out.  Why would I subject myself to more pain?  To find out where the nerve damage begins and to quantify the extent and quality of the damage…can it be repaired?

My answer is YES!  I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. If I lose the use of my hands then I will learn to use my feet.  Yesterday I had to clean a portion of my floors due to a mess a certain yellow-puppy-who-shall-be-unnamed tracked into the house.  I squirted cleaner on the floor and swiped a cloth over the mess.  This lasted only a few minutes in that my elbows and wrists were killing me.  So I stood up and used my feet.  Ta-da!  A clean floor!

These hands of mine have carried me a long way, and I lift them up to the Lord in thanksgiving and praise because He is worthy. He is able to use even this for his glory.  If I find myself unable to lift my hands to the sky, then I will lift my voice and my heart.  He saved me.  Jesus loves me.  The Father’s love for me is so wide and so deep and permeates my every pore so that there is nowhere I can run to get away from that love even if I wanted to.  His forgiveness washes over me like a waterfall in spring.  His grace covers my sins, my infirmities, my all.  How can I not give him anything less than ALL of me? Even though MY hands may be frail, His are strong and mighty. Nails shoved through His hands didn’t stop his victory over death.  I take comfort in the image of those scarred hands surrounding me, lifting me, hugging me, healing me.

My hands may be weak, but His are awesome and glorious in power!

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