Loving hands

THERE was a time in my life--a wonderful time for me--when I built the home in which our family lives. It was an arduous task of some two years. Often my legs grew rubbery and my limbs ached. I remember mentioning my black-and-blue nail-holding thumb once to an acquaintance, a veteran carpenter. ``Ah, yes'' he replied, stretching forth his own strong yet weatherworn hands. ``Building a home requires loving hands.''

In the months that followed I drew inspiration from that vision of ``loving hands'' whenever strain or dullness pressed me.

All handwork can be an expression of love. A mechanic's repair of some family's faithful car, or a janitor's daily cleaning rounds in the school building, or a seamstress's alteration of a favorite jacket, or a backhoe operator's precise excavation of a new basement is worthy work. If the motivation for such work is found in a love for God and man, happiness and fulfillment will accompany the ``job well done.'' Then those hands do loving work.

Sometimes, though, handwork can sink into tiresome labor, unappreciated drudgery. Is anyone exempt from such experiences? These tender words from Christ Jesus seem made to order for such a feeling: ``Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.'' 1

We might well translate Jesus' invitation, ``Come, find a more spiritual vision of your handwork and of yourself as the workman, and be refreshed.'' If we accept the view of ourselves as burdened mortals--merely passing time, working in circumstances that mean nothing to us, doing work that is of no importance--no wonder we wear out! But if we instead look to God as the source of our being and of our inspiration, our work can become a natural expression of what we know in our hearts to be true of our identity as children of God.

It is this spiritual identity as God's offspring that we are striving to express, regardless of the physical task before us. That identity is whole and complete now because man, as the image of God, reflects the completeness of God's being. This completeness of our true selfhood belongs to us by reason of our spiritual birthright; it requires no earning.

Two good carpenters can knock together the first-floor framing system of a good-sized house in one day with a sharpshooter's accuracy. Is the quick work done to prove their merit or because of their merit? In most cases it's because, and isn't this a hint that we can approach all our work as our expression of praise for God and of what He has already created?

Can't these same two carpenters gain additional inspiration by knowing that an appreciative family may take shelter in that home and live there many years? Isn't service to others a powerful motivating force that has its roots in our own spiritual identity as an expression of divine Love? Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, a woman who labored with great joy for many years in founding the Church of Christ, Scientist, says, ``Happiness consists in being and in doing good; only what God gives, and what we give ourselves and others through His tenure, confers happiness: conscious worth satisfies the hungry heart, and nothing else can.'' 2

From the grandeur of God--from infinite divine Love, eternal Truth--comes this ``conscious worth'' that is fundamental to man's being. It is spiritual worth, a concrete element of genuine satisfaction and progress.

So, let the loving hands rejoice in their work! Let the carpenter's hands sing with praise for his creator, God, and with love for the service he is doing.

1 Matthew 11:28. 2 Message to The Mother Church for 1902, p. 17. DAILY BIBLE VERSE We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

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