Put Your Hand in the Hand...
by Lynda Peet
Put Your hand in the hand /of the man who stilled the water
Put you hand in the hand /of the man who calmed the sea.
Take a look at yourself/ and you will look at others/ differently
By putting your hand in the hand/ of the man from Galilee
These words are the chorus of a Christian/Rock/Pop “crossover” song first released in 1971 and performed by a group called “Ocean.” It has been redone by numerous artists since then including Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, and the Oakridge Boys. I think for “Ocean,” though, this was a one-hit wonder. If you are feeling a bit “de-energized,” just Google “Put Your Hand-In-The-Hand-of- the Man Who Calmed the Waters” for an instant pick me up! YouTube has the original version by “Ocean.” Better than caffeine!
I have always felt connected to Jesus, having been raised in the Lutheran faith since early childhood. Any reference to Him in music, the arts, or literature always gets my attention, so I am not surprised that the words of this catchy tune have come to mind lately. For if ever there was a time to put my hand in His, it is now. My journey, like that of many other “Believers,” has not always been easy, especially adjusting to retirement and so much unstructured time. As Christians we are certainly not promised a life free of suffering, but we are promised a comforter to support us through difficult times. Retirement has been for me a time to learn to allow myself to be comforted by God through a period of solitude and silence. Still, the Holy Spirit encourages me to “Put (my) hand in the hand of the man from Galilee.”
When I first heard this song in the early 70s I was in my late 20s. In graduate school at the time, I envisioned walking with Jesus down an endless road to a very distant horizon, sunlight streaming down all around us and colorful flowers at our feet. We held hands as children do, swinging our joined arms wildly back and forth, full of joy, vitality and expectation. Listening to the song recently at age 68, I do not see the road ahead as clearly as I did in my original reveries. We walk more slowly, and thankfully His grip is firmer with a bit of restraint. I understand the need to be cautious and reflexively I fall back, feeling safe in the shadow of his robe.
He holds me close, buttressed against his feet, and a time of stillness is enforced. I wait for some word, some movement of His to follow, but there seems to be none. Peeking out from the folds of His holy garments I shudder; I see that together we stand in the center of the emotional flatland of retirement, where the theme of recent divorce weaves like a serpent, compounding a sense of desolation and loss. For the first time in my life and I am unable at this time to come up with “Plan A,” let alone “Plan B.” And so, we wait.
On a more positive note, I believe that when life places you in a situation so completely opposite from the one you would have wished for yourself, God is trying to get your attention in a big way! A greater plan than the one we might have imagined for ourselves slowly but steadily evolves if, as a matter of spiritual discipline, we do not resist. Letting go of the control switch is not easy after a lifetime of actively “making things happen,” and is difficult at times to remember we are human “beings”, not human “doings. ”Yet, this is what retirement seems to ask of us. A major “spiritual developmental” task of retirement for me has been the cultivation of faith and to really, really listen, for still small voice within. For years I have pushed away from the God who would hold me close, but this has been going on, I am forced to conclude, long enough. Peace...be still.
I look forward to sharing with readers my time in the shadowlands of retirement where my Lord holds me for the time being. The foundation of understanding what is going on in my life right now connects strongly with my life-long efforts to understand this intensely personal and enigmatic Savior—the one who turns, almost casually, looks over his shoulder to declare boldly—“Before Abraham was, I am.”
Blesssings and Light to all, Lynda