Tuesday, January 12, 2010

In the Palm of God's Hand

In her book, Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert describes the spiritual experience of “being in the palm of God’s hand.” As I was meditating on the first chapter of Revelation, I was impressed by the physical contact between the glorified Christ and his people. At first John sees what seems like a terrifying vision of an exalted Christ.

“His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead.” (1:14-17)

But then there is physical and emotional contact. John says, “Then he placed his right hand on me and said: "Do not be afraid.” This fiery Christ touches him tenderly and speaks to him compassionately. Furthermore it says that the seven stars he holds in his hands are the “messengers” of the seven churches. Some see these as angels, others as pastors of the churches, and still others as the human messengers who were to take this epistle of Revelation to the seven churches of Asia. I think perhaps they are the prophets that were common in the early churches, who were inspired by God to bring a message of hope. Like the prophets of the Old Testament, they also felt God’s hand upon them.

God says to his people in Jerusalem in Isaiah 49:15-16 “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.”

I am not a Gaither fan, but the words of Bill Gaither’s song come to mind, “He touched me, Oh, He touched me, And oh the joy that floods my soul. Something happened and now I know, He touched me and made me whole.”

The Christ of Revelation is not as a distant monarch sitting on a throne, but One who is on earth standing in the midst of his churches (represented by the lampstands) and touching John and the messengers of the churches. He holds us in the palm of his hand.

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