Originally published in Pulpit Helps, May 2006.
Perhaps you have heard the story of the young boy who always made his mother wear gloves out in public because he was embarrassed at the unsightly deformity of her hands. During a presentation by the teachers and parents at his school, however, he made a discovery that would forever change his perspective.
His mother shared the story that when the young boy was a baby, the family house caught fire in the middle of the night. In her effort to save her baby boy, the mother's hands were badly burned as she fought the flames to rescue him from his crib. The young boy approached his mother with tears streaming down his cheeks, and he slowly removed the gloves from her hands. As he stroked her deformed hands, he said to her, "these scars are symbols of your love for me, and I am so proud of them. To me, they are the most beautiful hands in the world."
In Proverbs 31, Solomon paints a beautiful picture of an exemplary woman and mother. I am not sure if you have ever noticed, but in his description, he has much to say about her hands. Although Solomon failed in relationships with women during his later years, it appears he took notice of the lessons his mother's hands were displaying during the formative years of his life.
In a mother's touch, there is a wonderful mixture of tenderness and toughness. She possesses a softness in her hands that makes her appear weak and helpless, and yet a firmness to remove the lid on a pickle jar that even dad could not budge. In her touch, there is passion, patience, perception, punishment, and precision.
A mother's hands speak a language that still whispers to our hearts long after her presence is no longer available. When you reflect on the touches your mother gave to your life, just what pictures come to mind?
A mother's hands are resourceful. The woman described in Proverbs 31 used her hands to sow the fields, purchase real estate, clothe her household, and care for the needy. Her hands gave her life balance and enabled her to do many things well at one time.
Although we were not a rich family when I was growing up, we discovered our wealth was disguised in our stay-at-home mother. Her hands were compulsively industrious and we each learned from the creativity of her hands. Like the few small loaves and fishes in the Lord's hands, the hands of a mother seem to be able to make something out of nothing. Perhaps the very patience and resourcefulness that elevated Joseph as leader in a critical hour came from lessons learned from Rachel's hands. While a mother's hands may reveal effective methods, her hands are also providing the steady confidence that you can do it for yourself!
A mother's hands are revealing. In 1 Timothy 5:14, the younger women are challenged to "...marry, bear children, guide the house...." She is the rudder on the family ship that gives accurate direction to the home. I wonder how many of us would be who we are or where we are had it not been for a mother's hands that pointed out the way for us? It would seem that more than one Jochebed has used her hands to build an ark of bulrushes to protect her Moses, and then carefully and strategically laid him in the flow of life that led him to a successful place.
One of the reasons Mary was chosen as the mother of Jesus is because her hands would never stop pointing the way to the cross for her Son! A mother's hands carry us to places we could not go for ourselves, and they lift us to positions that were otherwise unobtainable.
A mother's hands are resilient. In 1 Samuel 2:19, we are told Samuel's "...mother made him a little coat, and brought it to him from year to year...." Although Hannah had given her son to the Lord, her hands never ceased to touch his life!
No matter how old her children may be, a mother's hands are always ready to impart a touch. I find it interesting that you will never see a mother standing around with her hands in her pockets. Her hands are always available. Whether it is to referee a wrestling match or to wipe away tears caused from a failure, her hands are there to serve one purpose: to be used!
As I watch my mother aging, her hands are changing with time. I notice spots that date her, but they are a badge of honor. I notice they are not as smooth anymore, but the lines and wrinkles are trophies from battles she fought and won. I notice they are not as strong as they used to be, but perhaps it is because they gave to me their strength. No matter what they look like over time, to me, they are still the most beautiful hands in the world!
© Alan Stewart
Alan Stewart pastors Rechoboth Baptist Church in Soddy Daisy, Tennessee.
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