8:18

Hands-on faith

Hands-on faith

Is my writing steady here?

I’ll take that as a left-handed compliment.  When Isaiah prompted me to try this, I hadn’t thought about how tricky it would be to write even a simple phrase with my non-dominant hand.  But this will work.

Let’s get right to the inspiration.  Here’s the passage:

 For I will pour water on the thirsty land,
    and streams on the dry ground;
I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring,
    and my blessing on your descendants.
They will spring up like grass in a meadow,
    like poplar trees by flowing streams.
Some will say, ‘I belong to the Lord’;
    others will call themselves by the name of Jacob;
still others will write on their hand, ‘The Lord’s,’
    and will take the name Israel.   (Is. 44:3-5)

To fully perceive the process of change, my commentary tells me, we need to see a progression.  In 43:25, God promises to deal with Israel’s sin: blotting it out and remembering it no more.  Then here, he pours out new life into them (44:3).  And finally, we see their personal response in verse 5.

  1. Sin removed
  2. New life given
  3. Living it out

In Scripture, the hand is the action part of the body.  So, to write God’s name on one’s hand is to bring him into every deed – not just what we think or feel, but what we do.  It is to fully identify as belonging to the God who has redeemed us.

I decide to try it for a day.

Since I have no work assignments today, I’m doing a variety of household tasks.  The words on my hand constantly catch my eye, nudging me back into acknowledging my commitment to him, drawing me back into prayer.

And when I leave the house to do errands, again, the message is front and center.  I am keenly aware that I am not simply a man driving around town but an ambassador for the King.  I am reminded of the time I left a conference in NYC, quite proud of how I had blended into the anonymity of the subway only to look down and find the name tag still plastered on my shirt: “Hi!  My name is Bruce.  I’m from Lewisburg!”

My back-handed message speaks to me as I write out emails, reminding me that my words, as well, flow out of my identity as the Lord’s child.  Every interaction is colored by it -- even in this temporary age of disconnection, when it’s harder than ever to bridge the gaps between us.

So that later, when I call a friend dealing with cancer, I know the phrase is present even though I can’t see it.  For it’s not the external reminder I need now, but the internal whispering of the Spirit (step two in the transformation process above), guiding me as to when to listen and when to speak.

The LORD’s.

I will admit, this is a bit bold for me.  I’m glad this is not a tattoo.  But it does make me consider how I live out my identity as a child of God, as a disciple of Jesus.  It reminds me that there is nothing that I do that lies outside the range of that defining reality.

Nothing is too mundane to be touched by his Lordship.

That’s a handy truth.  With or without the marker.

Lord, we are yours.  We are not our own; we were bought with a price.  Show us how to carry that identity with us into everything we do.

Reader:  Do you have a way to remind yourself of your identity in Christ throughout the day?  Tell me about it.

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Bruce Van Patter

As a freelance illustrator, graphic recorder, and author, Bruce is on a lifelong journey to delight in the handiwork of the Creator. And he’s always ready for fellow travelers.