I’ve got some large hands, which helped me as a catcher, wrestler, and linebacker. A friend of mine was telling me about the size of his dad’s hands. He said he and his siblings used to laugh a bit watching his big, calloused fingers struggle to turn the thin, wispy pages of his study Bible. The pages of his Bibles wore out rather quickly not because of the heavy fingerprints or his strong grip. They were overwhelmed by constant use.
His giant hands were accompanied by a giant hunger and faith, too. The Bible was his guide in life, in worship, in work, in his love for his wife and care of his children, his concern for others, his generosity, and even in his childrearing and discipline.
This dad never used a belt or brush or any other implement when it was necessary to apply a little corporal punishment. My friend (who is my age), said his dad used those plywood hard palms of his – firm enough to create pain, but never to injure.
Many child psychologists, with some justification, argue that a parent should not use their hands to spank a child. They insist this action will result in fear that children will soon be terrified of their parents’ hands. Instead, they should use a neutral object like a wooden spoon as a tool of punishment. Then the children will merely fear the object and not the parent.
Perhaps this is true in some instances. Yet my friend said his father was just as quick to use those hands to pick him up, place him on his lap, and embrace him with love and forgiveness and tender care. Therefore, he and his siblings never cringed when their father approached them. His large hands were mere extensions of a loving heart. My pal added, “I don’t know what Dad’s heavenly body looks like today (he died a few years ago), but I sure hope God allowed him to keep those wonderful, big grippers.”
This conversation reminded me of a valuable lesson about God.
Read Hebrews 12:5-11.
A few thoughts: 1) God disciplines those he loves; 2) His discipline is a sign that we are His children; 3) They are an assurance of His love and concern for us; 4) The purpose of God’s discipline is that we become more like him and not be illegitimate sons and daughters; 5) If we submit to His discipline with a right attitude, it will produce godly character in us; 6) God disciplines us for our good, that we share in His life and holiness; 7) We respect our parents for training, and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God’s training so we might truly live?
The Scriptures reveal God as a Person of love and mercy, but He also is our heavenly Father who must discipline us to be true to who He is and help us become who he created us to be. He pushes me when I need to get started, points the way when I need direction, lifts me when I need to get over an obstacle, stops me when I go astray, gives me a do-over when I mess up, and hugs me when sorrow comes knocking. That is what you can expect from the hands of God.
No Christian needs to fear the big hands of a just and merciful heavenly Father. Eugene Peterson in The Message writes, “God is educating you; that is why you must never drop out. He is not punishing you, but training you.” Think theologically. Discipline is pain that empowers.
Love is a verb,
©2013 by Mike Olejarz