You hold my hand, you love me: King of this whole world, you lead me, making my right hand your chosen tool so that each act becomes a holy service in your master plan. You hold my hand, you love me: Lover of my soul, you treasure me and nurture every gifting given and make each weakness a new way to intervene with strength. You hold my hand, you love me: Father-love that cares for me that clears the rubbish from the path and grasps me tight when gale-force winds would sweep me off my feet. You hold my hand, you love me: Spirit-love that fills me up and squeezes out the selfishness so that instead your love and joy reach out with grace to spread your peace.
One of my favorite childhood memories is actually more like a GIF, a movement that happened over and over, time after time: my Dad’s hand reaching down to mine. He would grasp my hand, my fingers would then wind around a couple of his his fingers in return (the most I could hold on to), and off we would go. He had very long legs, so I had to scramble to keep up. But I was secure. Sometimes he was holding me so that I would not get lost in a crowd, in an airport or a store. Other times he just wanted to communicate that father-love that was so precious as we walked down a path.
That picture of safety in a father’s grip is easy to relate to, if you’ve had a good father. One that was always harder for me to grasp was the Scripture’s motif of God holding his loved one’s right hand. Why specify that right hand? Usually it is God’s right hand that is the focus. It is the hand by which he acted, the image of power and rescue:
Your right hand, LORD, was majestic in power. Your right hand, LORD, shattered the enemy. (Exod. 15:6 NIV)
Show me the wonders of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes. (Ps. 17:7 NIV)
5 You make your saving help my shield, and your right hand sustains me; your help has made me great. (Ps. 18:35 NIV)
. . . even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. (Ps. 139:10 NIV)
In many parts of the world, this imagery of the right hand being the “good hand” (the left hand reserved for dirty work) is still alive and active. It was definitely viewed that way in Nyarafolo country in Côte d’Ivoire. So when a father reaches out to hold you by his right hand, you are truly safe.
Your own right hand is made for good activity, too, in the Scriptures. When God holds your right hand, he is going to help you accomplish what is before you:
For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. (Isa. 41:13 NIV) . . .See, I will make you into a threshing sledge, new and sharp, with many teeth. You will thresh the mountains and crush them, and reduce the hills to chaff. (Isa. 41:15 NIV)
In these verses God is making his people valiant, successful in fighting against evil. His presence at our active side does take away our fear so that we can be strong:
I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. (Ps. 16:8 NIV)
Yet I am always with you [Lord]; you hold me by my right hand. (Ps. 73:23 NIV)
Maybe you are left-handed. Don’t feel left out! The Scriptures are using imagery that was meaningful to the cultures in which they were spoken. Whichever hand is the one you mostly use for action, think of God holding that hand, strengthening it, and guiding it so that it can do what he wants it to do.
Maybe, like me, you can remember your mother holding your hand with her hand as you grasped an electric beater for the first time, making sure you could manage it well. Or maybe it was Dad’s firm hand on yours to tighten your grip when you were finding yourself too weak to turn a testy jar lid. Those hands showed you how to do something, and added their strength to yours.
When our Lord holds our right hand, we are empowered – not to just follow our own whims, but to accomplish what he has in mind.
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isa. 41:10 NIV)
May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, 17 encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. (2 Thess. 2:16 NIV)
Another memory with GIF replay in my mind is when one of my parents said, “Linn, would you please hold your little brother’s hand as we cross the street!”
Just has I needed to reach out lovingly to protect my sibling, Jesus wants us to reach out in love to our brothers and sisters in His family. The command he gave that tells us succinctly what he wants us to live out is this:
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. (Jn. 15:12 NIV)
How did he love us? He gave himself for us!
So picture yourself walking your life path firmly attached to God, our Lord and Father and Savior. He is holding you by your hand of action, teaching you how to do what you should, giving you strength to do it, pouring his love into you so that it flows out to others. His commands may seem way beyond our paygrade and not at all what we would naturally think of doing, but with him holding our hand by his powerful hand, it is much harder to run off and do our own thing. Our fingers wrapped around his, we can stay on the path he is walking, do what he wants.
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Mic. 6:8 NIV)