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Put my hand in your hand

Wednesday, January 5, 2005

1 John 4:11-18
Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

This is a love story. It is true.

My friend grew up with an angry, violent father. He spanked her and hurt her and she knew, when she was grown and a mom herself, that her father had been abusive.

Her father grew old. He had diabetes he did not control. He was diagnosed with dementia, and in spite of the confusion of his thoughts, became much easier for my friend to be around. He was tired, no new energy for the old anger.

One day he asked her to cut his fingernails, which she did. She thought suddenly, as she held her father's right hand in hers, that this was the hand that had struck her so hard so often so many years before. She held him gently. She continued to trim his nails. And she held that thought.

When her father died, she and her mother began to give his clothes away to the needy. She noticed that his leather gloves fit her hands. "I wore them," she said, "and felt the Lord telling me how much He and my father loved me. When I put my hand in his glove, it was a reminder that the Lord was with me."

For the next year she wore his glove on her hand, often. In those many days, some filled with great sadness, whatever bitterness had been held captive in her heart dried up and drained away. She loved her father. Just as he was, she loved him.

Jesus, your love for me, and your love even for the ones I might hate, will melt all the ice in my heart. Do that in me, Lord. Do it. Let me love, too.

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