My dad is an artist, and I’ve always loved his hands. Large, strong, capable – but so gentle. Soft but not frail. So very able. Talent hidden in those hands, the ability to make something surprisingly beautiful. My dad worked with his dad as a cabinetmaker, and he is skilled at carpentry, at making things solid and beautiful at the same time. But when he sits down with a brush, he is amazing. He’s got such a delicate touch – he can effortlessly, in a couple strokes, invoke the sagging roofline of a barn in the snow, bring out depth and color in the shadows of a hollyhock, or carve ruts in a dirt lane. With years of experience and loads of innate talent, my dad makes it look so easy. When people ask how long it took to paint a panting, he’ll reply, “3 hours and 30 years.” He worked hard and spent years developing his skills, and now it comes easily to him. It’s not that easy for most of the rest of us.
I’ve always thought my dad’s hands must be a lot like God’s. Big enough to hold my hand and make me feel protected, and at the same time capable of such gentleness. But when God works, it doesn’t just look effortless on his part, it really is. It’s more than a well-honed skill. He creates with just a touch, just a word, just a thought. And then He tries to involve us. It’s like when we teach our kids that success doesn’t come without effort and monetary gain doesn’t come without work. We want them to understand the value of what they have. So even though it’s not hard for God to grant our desires, He may ask us to do some work to get what we need. Not in exchange for His blessing, and not as a form of payment, but simply so we understand the worth of what He’s given us.