Isaiah 49:15-16a – Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands. (NRSV)
We used to celebrate my mom's birthday at our cottage, when she was able to travel. The first time she came for a visit, I wanted to show her the beauty of our secluded lot on a small, wilderness lake.
I took her on a winding path through the forest to "Coffee Rock" overlooking the eastern portion of the lake where we often savoured our morning coffee. The trail was uneven, with rocks and tree roots lying hidden beneath the ground cover.
As her feet shuffled along, I suddenly realized that she was becoming frail. I held her hand to keep her from falling. It dawned on me that once upon a time, she had held my hand to guide my first faltering steps, just as I had held my daughter's hand as she learned to walk.
In another flash of understanding, I realized that one day, my daughter would lead my aging body by the hand as well. It seemed like three lifetimes passed before me in that one brief forest happening on the way to Coffee Rock.
Just as a child learns to grasp an adult's loving hand for safety, guidance, comfort, warmth, and companionship, when the roles are reversed, the benefits remain. Even if our memory fails us and our steps falter, we are somehow programmed to trust a loving hand.
Once, I had wondered how my mother would cope with a loss of independence when the time came for her to rely on others to look after her. The answer was evident in a well-worn, wooden plaque that hung above her bed and followed her from home to nursing home. It was her declaration of faith from the prophet Isaiah: "See! I will not forget you … I have carved you on the palm of my hand. Isaiah 49:15".
She knew that she was in the hands of a loving heavenly Father from her first breath until her last.
She gave me an example to follow as she put her hands in the hands of the One Whose love will never let us go. If I happen to forget the lessons that she taught me as her life drew to a close, I'll have my daughter hang that plaque in a prominent place near my bed to remind me when my time comes.
In what ways has God reminded you that your life is lived in the hands of a loving heavenly Father?
Prayer: Loving God, in Your wisdom, You have given us a time for every matter under heaven. You have given us times of work and times of play, times of holding on and times of letting go, times of strength and times of weakness, times to care for others and times to let others care for us. In all the seasons of life, may we know that all of our times are in Your hands. Amen.
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Listen while you read: "Rock Of Ages Cleft For Me" (Lyrics)