The Hands of a Man

November 7, 2008
By Erica Gilliland, Wolcottville, IN

Nothing about them is soft. Cracks run in patterns like the intricate strings of a spider web, going seemingly nowhere but leading somewhere at the same time. They are never at rest, but rather always clenching, scratching, caressing, twiddling, holding, massaging, expressing emotion. Hard work is written on each layer of calluses and scars. “They’ve probably been this way since I was 15,” my dad explains. “Sometimes they were worse. But that’s what happens.” He did not purpose to someday have the hands of a man, but rather my dad let God use his hands to help him become the man he was purposed to be.
Growing up on a farm, Dad soon found out that his hands were one of the most important tools God had given him. Farming ran deep in his blood and he wanted nothing more than to own his own land one day. With such clear ambitions, there was no need to go to college and seek a degree like his older siblings had. Instead he dreamed of running his hands through the dirt and watching his hard work grow. Soon he married and with my mom set out to fulfill his life-long dream. Together they moved to a farmhouse adjacent to some family land not two miles away from his childhood home.
For the first few years of their life together, my dad continued to work with his father in the fields and barns. But before he knew it, the family of two became three when Aaron came into the family. Suddenly he found himself holding the delicate hands of his son in his own weathered ones. Although he may not have recognized it at the time, God was molding his hands to do different and greater things. Before long his nights were filled with the cries and sleepless fits of the young child. Now instead of fixing broken equipment or gripping bales of hay, his hands had to learn how to softly cuddle. How to soothe and how to hold. Now the hands of a farmer became the hands of a father.
Many years passed and the family grew to six, with the addition of Austin, me, and Evan. Later, another two, Amanda and Brandon, were added. Dad’s hands no longer fulfilled only the duties of the farmer. Now they were the doctor, the plumber, the discipliner, the carpenter, the mechanic, the dishwasher, the playmate, and every once in a while, the hairdresser. But God was doing more than shaping him into the perfect father. Piece by piece, day by day, my dad was learning what is meant to be the spiritual head of his household. God chose to use experiences to shape him. While many times at the end of the day he could look at his hands and thank God for all He had helped him accomplish, there were also those days when all he could see was the hands of a failure. But it was in those moments of weakness that God reminded him of the example He had set before.
The hands were bloodied and bruised, and beneath the skin the bones were splintered and broken. Marred beyond recognition were the hands that had once fed thousands and healed the sick and wounded. A hole so large you could place your finger through it adorned each palm. Nothing about them said love, mercy, gentleness, kindness. Instead, they screamed hurt, anger, hatred, and defeat. The hands of Jesus after he was taken from the cross were so mutilated that most anyone would grimace at the sight. But it is because of those hands that my dad could look up from his mistakes and say everything would be okay. Christ did not die for him to live in defeat. Instead, He died so that he might become the man he was purposed to be. A man of vision, a man of calling, a man who allows God to use his hands.

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This article has 1 comment.

Audrianna_09 said...
on Nov. 18 2008 at 7:11 pm
Erica this is a great piece. I'm sure your dad will love to read it =) you, too, are using the abilities the wonderful Lord has given you. don't ever stop. God Bless

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