Chet and June Clayton sent me a very interesting and inspirational article the other day. Chet’s brother had sent it to them. I do not know the originator, but I wish that I had written it.
It’s about something basic that each of us have-OUR HANDS. And GRANDPA.
For years, I’ve studied the art of communication. Whether through the printed page or verbally. Any emphasis on understanding is minimal. The speaker or writer should speak or write so that the hearer or reader understands.
Ideas can be so oblique or deep that there is very little understanding. A professor of mine at one time said, “There is a danger of confusing depth with ambiguity.” Or vagueness.
As a minister, I’ve always looked for and tried to emulate those speakers that I believed were effective communicators. Here are my favorites: Winston Churchill, Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, John F. Kennedy, Helen Keller, Ronald Reagan, Michelle Obama, Martin Luther King, Jr., Bishop Gerald Kennedy, and Norman Vincent Peale. These are NOT prioritized. I’ve learned a great deal from all of them. But I learned something very important from Bishop Kennedy. He often said, “In speaking (preaching), emotionalize the truth.” In other words, “vitalize ideas with illustrations.”
The following article is a prime example of emotionalizing the truth.
“Grandpa, some ninety plus years, sat feebly on the patio bench. He didn’t move, just sat with his head down staring at his hands. When I sat down beside him he didn’t acknowledge my presence and the longer I sat, I wondered if he was OK.
Finally, not really wanting to disturb him but wanting to check on him at the same time, I asked him if he was Ok. He raised his head and looked at me and smiled. ‘Yes, I’m fine. Thank you for asking;’ he said in a clear strong voice.
‘I didn’t mean to disturb you, Grandpa, but you were just sitting here staring at your hands and I wanted to make sure you were OK,’ I explained to him.
‘Have you ever looked at your hands,’ he asked. I mean really looked at your hands?
I slowly opened my hands and stared down at them. I turned them over, palms up and then palms down. No, I guess I had never really looked at my hands as I tried to figure out the point he was making. Grandpa smiled and related this story:
‘Stop and think for a moment about the hands you have, how they have served you well throughout your years. These hands, though wrinkled, shriveled, and weak have been the tools I have used all my life to reach out and grab and embrace life. They put food in my mouth and clothes on my back.
* As a child, my mother taught me to fold them in prayer.
* They tied my shoes and pulled on my boots.
* They have been dirty, scraped and raw. Swollen and bent.
* They were uneasy and clumsy when I tried to hold my new born son.
* Decorated with my wedding band they showed the world that I was married and loved by someone special.
* They trembled and shook when I buried my parents and spouse and walked my daughter down the aisle.
* They have covered my face, combed my hair, and washed and cleansed the rest of my body.
* They have been sticky and wet, bent and broken, dried and raw.
* And to this day, when not much of anything else of me works real well, these hands hold me up, lay me down, and again continue to fold in prayer.
* These hands are the mark of where I’ve been and the ruggedness of my life.
* But more importantly it will be these hands that God will reach out and take when He leads me home.
* And with my hands He will lift me to His side and there I will use these hands to touch the face of Christ.’
I will never look at my hands the same again. But I remember God reached out and took my Grandpa’s hands and led him home. When my hands are hurt or sore I think of Grandpa. I know he has been stroked and caressed and held by the hands of God. I, too, want to touch the face of God and feel His hands upon my face.”
I remember reading a very inspiring story about the Normandy Invasion following the close of World War II. The Allied forces were marching toward Berlin through France. In a small village, the American forces saw a Roman Catholic Church with a statue of Jesus in front. However, His arms and hands had been blown off from artillery fire. An American soldier had hung a sign on his neck with the words. “HE HAS NO HANDS BUT OURS.”
Amen. Selah. So be it.