Made by Hands

Second Corinthians 5:21 promises that, for those in Christ, this life leads to another. In that time and place, we’ll be housed in a dwelling of God’s creation, “… a house not made with hands.”

Deep thoughts for Labor Day! A time usually set aside from thinking of sweat and toil.

There’s refreshing implications here—for my hope beyond this life, for the security I find in the stuff and matter of this earth. But, there’s a flip-side implication as well: While we’re in this life, handwork (together with its grit and grime) does matter.

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In several of my former lives (being figurative here) I did not believe this. In my liberal arts past, loving the iron of English and the stuff of great thoughts, I thought that real work, my work at least, should involve nothing practical. I was young then. Later, in my work in New Testament, same thing. I grew a little less young …

Since, I’ve found that the closer I read Scripture the more God’s Word and God’s world merge in this life. 

Living life in relationship helps. A dirty deck becomes a journey of discovery with my nine year-old son, Jack, and I. A faulty sump pump switch, then a clogged evacuation line, becomes opportunity for humility in asking for help from church member and manual arts mentor friend, Greig. (There’s others in Greig’s mold, Ed, Steve, Larry. I call them my “mighty men,” those further along in the manual arts and, thus, able to teach me.) Discipleship is the word I’m looking for here.

In the end, there is a kind of preparation for the next life that takes place when we work with our hands, particularly with others. We find it with those we help, and those who help us. And we learn … that while God prepares our future without hands, He meets our needs in this life with hands—our own and, frequently, the hands of others.

There’s another verse that comes to mind. Psalm 90:17 reads, Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands. 

And so, while we travel this life with others, God’s Word and world form a pleasant marriage. And, we work.

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