I watch the hands that bathe the baby. Strong. Skilled. Gentle. The newborn relaxes into being held, lets herself be stilled. For the first few moments she is alert, gazing up into the face of the midwife, then her eyes close and she rests. Reflexively, she sucks. Instinctively, her little arms wrap around the bigger ones which hold her so tenderly. But mostly she stills and rests, secure in the hands which submerge her in the water until only her tiny nose peeks out.
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.” (Isaiah 43:2)
Our God is a hands-on God. He didn’t merely speak us into being. He shaped us, breathed into us. He carries us, holds us by our right hand, lifts us up in his arms. Our God touches, taking children on his lap, placing his hands on them and blessing them; touching the untouchable leper, Jairus’ dead daughter, the man born blind.
I struggle to get my head around the intimacy of this God who touches, to relax into being held, and find myself in the company of the psalmist:
“You hem me in – behind and before; You have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.” (Ps 139:5-6)
The hands which have cradled, crafting the detailed intricacy of our bodies from the moment of conception, hold us still. When the water is up to my nose, I need to know this. The psalmist did too. In the most horrifically traumatic experience of his life, when he felt more like a worm than a human, rejected by people and deserted by God, he turned to the midwifing God.
“Yet it was you who pulled me out of the womb, you kept me safe on my mother’s breast.” (Psalm 22:9)
Again desperate, he cries out to God as the one who cut his umbilical cord at his birth:
“It was you who cut me from my mother’s womb.” (Ps 71:6)
He knows himself as vulnerable, as utterly helpless, as at his birth. If this life-protecting, midwifing God does not intervene, he will die.
He knows this too: the One who guarded his life at birth guards him still. Feeling desperately his own helplessness, he stakes all his hope on the wisdom and gentle protection of this God who touches and tends.
I can only offer my body a living sacrifice when I remember that it’s into these strong, skilled, gentle hands that I’m being called to give myself. The truth is, these hands are already holding me. My offering merely acknowledges what is, lets me rest in these safe hands instead of trying to do for myself what I cannot do.
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Want to soak further in the joy of belonging to this hands-on God? Choose a phrase from one of the verses above, or explore the others listed below, and then, asking God to enable you to rest in His hands, watch this 5 minute clip of the baby resting in the hands of the midwife.
Gen 2:7; Ex 19:4; 33:22; Deut 1:31; 33:12, 27; Psalm 18:16; Ps 95:4-7; SS 2:6; Is 41:10; 46:3-4; 63:9; Mark 10:16; John 10:28-29; 1 Pet 1:5; Rev 1:7
If you’d like to join us in a six week study of the character of this One who calls us to offer ourselves to him, you can download your free copy here.