He Holds My Hand
by Sue Tell
Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy …
In the past five years, attending funerals has occupied more of our calendar space than attending weddings, a new chapter in our journey. My wonderings,my curiosity, my trust about heaven stirred, a good thing.
Jerry Bridges titled his memoir, “God Took Me by the Hand”. Apt words for me as I pondered familiar scriptures expanding my thoughts of heaven. Three truths especially encouraged my heart.
I’m overwhelmed again by the love of God
He is nicknamed Doubting Thomas. His faith challenged when his friends tell him they have seen Jesus after the resurrection. He retorts, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails … I will never believe.” John 20:25. Jesus submits to his request. Jesus has visible wounds AFTER his resurrection! Doesn’t the Bible teach that our resurrected bodies will be new, whole, well, healed? It appears Jesus is an exception.
Wayne Grudem in Systematic Theology says, “The scars from Jesus’ crucifixion are unique … The fact that he retains those scars does not necessarily mean that we shall retain ours” page 616. I wonder, if Thomas was the only one to ever want proof of Jesus’ crucifixion by seeing the scars, would those scars have remained just for Thomas? John 20:30-31 remind us:
Now Jesus did many other signs … but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
Both Luke and John record signs of the resurrected Christ … the grave clothes, calling Mary by name, the breaking of bread, and Jesus’s scars. The scars are mentioned most. The scars are the proof of his suffering; the proof of his taking our sins to the cross; the proof that he is the sacrificial Lamb of God; the proof of his love. What in my life most communicates the reality of God? Often it is my scars. Everyone experiences “hards”. “Hards” lead to scars that speak of reality, of humanity, of my need for community, of opportunities to give and receive love.
I’m learning that scars open doors for ministry and opportunities to introduce my friends to the reality of Jesus. Jesus’ scars testify of God’s amazing love, love big enough to send his son to an excruciating death on a cross so we could experience a relationship with him. Our scars (which are only for our earthly days) allow us to share the love of Jesus.
Recently our brother-in-law met his Savior face to face. Wallace struggled the past five years with numerous serious health issues that defined the rest of his days here on earth. The man who always gave big strong bear hugs and built houses could no longer walk on his own or care for himself. Yet, until two years ago he continued to travel to be with family and deliver love from the seat of his walker. Although his physical capacity was wasting away and forever changed, it was obvious from the words spoken, the scriptures read, and the hymns sung at his funeral, his inner self was still the same. He knew God’s love and he loved God and his family. The banner in the front of the church read, “Wallace, I have called you by name” from Isaiah 43:1.
...Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16, 17
Jesus never leaves us…He takes us by our hand
Psalm 23:4 speaks of walking through the valley of the shadow of death, physical death, our doorway to heaven. The Psalmist declares, “I will fear no evil,” Why? Because you (God) are with me. Hebrews 13:5 referencing Joshua 1:5, “I will never leave you...” God never ever leaves His beloved children! Never!
In the opening verses of John 14, Jesus tells us that he is preparing a place for us in his Father’s house. When that place is prepared he will personally escort us there. “… I will come again and will take you to myself …” verse 4. Even in those moments as we pass from our earthly life, Jesus has our hand. Never, never, never are we away from His presence.
Jesus’ scars are yet another picture of his love. Our inner and now our outer renewal complete and the truth that God’s presence is an all-the-time reality is only the beginning of the wonders of heaven. Pondering these has created new anticipation for heaven in my heart.
Father, please continue to grow in us an anticipation of meeting You face to face. Thank you that when the time comes, You will come and personally escort us there. Amen
Sue Tell and her husband Bill have been married for almost 46 years and have served on the staff of The Navigators for 46 years as well. Although their official roles have changed over the years, the campus ministry has always been a part. Sue writes a weekly faith-based blog, Echoes of Grace, that you can find at suetell.com. (Echoes of Grace is "on leave" for the months of July and August for some website updates and will return September 6.) Sue also enjoys facilitating Sabbath-Living retreats to help women grow in their friendship with God. Bill and Sue have two married sons, five grands, and her favorite walking buddy, a Golden Retriever named Lexie.
STORE UP MORE TREASURES
At some point in our lives, we or someone we know will go through great suffering. I encourage you to go the MARKINC website and listen to the interview “The Ultimate Sacrifice" so that you can store up treasures of encouragement for the next rainy day in your life or someone else's. Here is a summary and teaser of this resource:
This resource addresses and honors the ultimate sacrifice made by brave men and women on behalf of our nation, for us! Dr. Chuck Betters and his wife, Sharon, interview Richelle Hecker who lost her husband and Burt and Donna Kephart who lost their son when each made the ultimate sacrifice, leaving behind beloved casualties of the war in Iraq. These interviews tackle the most provocative challenges of losing a loved one in battle and will profoundly impact you as you experience their “walk through the grief and pain.”
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Contact Sharon with comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.