“I will be the same in your old age, and I will bear you up when you turn gray. I have made you, and I will carry you; I will bear and save you.” Isaiah 46:4
I was working around the house today, and as I was scurrying around putting everything in its rightful place, I glanced down at my hands. Something made me stop, and I just stared down at my hands, examining them. These weren’t the hands they used to be; they were worn, creased with lines, and roughened a bit from the effects of time and use. I stood there focused on the change I had never seen in them before. To my surprise, I did not get distressed over these signs of aging and run off in a panic to get the anti-aging cream; instead, I smiled in thankfulness.
I will reach a milestone age this year that most people dread, yet at that moment when my age was before my eyes, all I could think about was how God had been with me through it all, how good He had been to me; how patient and enduring He had been in His faithfulness toward me. I thought of all the places I had been where He had to rescue me, the places where I thought He couldn’t find me, only to be relieved and grateful that He had never stopped searching for me, His lost sheep. I thought of all I had endured at the hands of my own selfishness and misdirected desires. The truth that He had never given up on me rang so clearly in my heart.
As I looked at my worn hands, I also contemplated how my parents had been God’s vessels to me, even during the many hard years of perseverance in which they fought to keep our family farm and provide the life for my sisters and me that they always wanted. Yet, in the midst of all of their struggles, they poured out God’s love abundantly into our hearts. And not once did we feel worried or insecure about what lie ahead in the future because we had them, and we had Jesus. I remember looking up into their eyes, always so filled with love, thinking that nothing in this world could harm me as long as I was with them. And almost certainly, they looked up to God and thought the exact same thing of Him.
As a youth, I did not yet understand just how Jesus would have to carry me with his own scarred hands for so much of my young adult life, but He was working in me nevertheless. I was blessed beyond measure by the church that I spent nearly 35 years in where a pastor and his wife helped to build the foundation for my faith. Always with open arms and smiles that lit up their eyes, they helped to show me that Jesus was love and kindness. And my youth leaders, who brought such joy to my life, treated me as their own daughter and illustrated to me that Jesus was big on mercy and short on condemnation.
How blessed I had been by the touch of God’s hand over the course of my life. And as I contemplated it within that short break from household chores, I was encouraged, not discouraged, by the fact that I am getting older. With a grateful heart, I treasure each step of this journey in which God has been my defender, teacher, father, friend, and guide. He prepared each step of my journey to lead to the point where He is the absolute treasure in my life, the One I lean on, and the One who gives me peace and purpose in the midst of an uncertain world. He has made me and carried me; he has bore me and saved me, and He will continue to carry me into my old age (Isaiah 46:4, paraphrased). And one day, beyond this earthly life, I will be able to put my worn hand in His, and He will lead me safely to the place where I will eternally walk with Him.