Monday, March 19, 2007

Palms of His Hands Story

Palms of His Hands

It was spring, 1991, when my grandparents buried their first born child, my aunt, claimed by lung cancer at the age of forty-nine. My first born, age two, wiggled beside me during the service even as my second child squirmed within – her debut still six weeks away. Maternal emotions consumed me causing heightened awareness of my grandmother’s grief. How does a mother bury a child – a part of herself? I knew her painful loss would remain the rest of her life.

The officiating minister, surely nudged by the Holy Spirit, read from Isaiah:

"Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands..." (Isaiah 49:15-16NIV)

Those words flew straight to my heart. How well I knew that no nursing mother can forget her child! Her entire body aches and yearns for her baby making forgetting a physical impossibility. Yet God says, even IF a nursing mother could forget, He would NEVER forget us. His love is deeper, His memory is greater, His heart strings are stronger than even the most devoted mother. He yearns for us making forgetting a spiritual impossibility (Jeremiah 31:20). We are permanently engraved on His very hands – a part of Him. How awesome is that!

It was fall, 1997, when the church we were serving gave my husband and me a tremendous gift – a trip to the Holy Land! Forever we will be grateful for that wondrous experience. Before we ever boarded the plane I envisioned the perfect souvenir – a carving of a child in the palm of a hand. I’d never seen such a statue, but I was on mission to find one.

Traipsing all over Israel, my eyes scanned the goods inside every little shop to no avail. When even the Olive Wood factory in Bethlehem failed me I began losing hope. God, however, smiled, for late in our trip my treasure was found at a small shop in Jerusalem’s King David Hotel. There it was, out of olive wood just as I pictured it, a hand with a child carved on it! I could now return home triumphant and satisfied with my special souvenir of a remarkable experience. Little did I know that souvenir would soon become an incredible symbol of God's abiding presence.

It was summer,1999, when my husband and I felt the call to foreign missions. We, our three children included, applied for a two year assignment overseas. There was no doubt God said, “Go!” He just didn’t say where. The mission board invited us for a two day conference to interview and discern a location. Hours passed with no direction. "Stressful" hardly seems adequate to describe the experience. Tears prepared for overflow. I turned toward my husband in despair and glimpsed a curio cabinet I had passed many times during the day. I stared. Why hadn't I noticed it before? Sitting on one of the shelves was a small statue of a hand with a child carved on it. "See, I’m still holding you," God said. And He was.

It was spring, 2002, when our overseas adventure ended, and again we longed for directions that seemed slow in coming. A myriad of emotions swirled inside once more. God’s voice seemed blocked by the inner turmoil. In desperation I cried, “OK, Lord, how will you show me this time that we are still in the palm of Your hand.” (I admit to wondering if we still were. My faith was wavering.)

Not many days later I walked into a nearby Christian bookstore. There on a sale table just inside the door was… (Drum roll please)…an olive wood carving of a hand with a child in it. Though it would yet be several months before we received His directions, it was a comfort knowing we were still not forgotten.

It is now Spring, 2007, and we have been in our new place of service almost five years. Life is pretty settled, at least for now, as the statue sits serenely on my desk. I suspect though, life being what it is, a time will inevitably come when once again I will need a clear reminder God’s still there holding my family and me. I have no doubt that somehow, someway, when I least expect it but desperately need it, God will find a remarkable way to once more assure me I am still remembered and forever kept safe in the Palm of His hands.

“The eternal God is a dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms…” Deuteronomy 33:27 NASB

©Drewe Llyn Jeffcoat 2007

1 comment:

Julie said...

Oh.. how beautiful! I love the statue.. and I love how you looked for it !
And I love how God has used it to remind you that indeed you are in the palm of His hand !

Do you know the Jewish custom God was refering to when He spoke the Is. 49:16 verse?
In bible times,of course there were no cameras to capture images of those we love to put on our fridge door !
The Israeli mothers had to send their sons off to war, their hearts breaking with the painful realization that they might never see them again.
And so this is what they did. They would write their son's name in the palm of their hand so that when they were going about their daily duties whenever they opened their hand and turned up the palm.. there was the name of their beloved son .. keeping his memory alive !!