At Right Hands

 

By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell

Scripture Readings:

Isaiah 41:13; Isaiah 48:13; Psalm 16:11; Psalm 18:35

“For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear; I will help you.’” (Isaiah 41:13, NIV, Life Application Bible) 

We have beautiful stained glass windows at Elpis Christian Church: Two of the windows I look at frequently are the ones behind the altar. The one I face on the left side depicts Jesus holding a lamb in his right arm and a shepherd’s crook in his left hand. The window on the right depicts Jesus with an open posture, his arms extended, and his palms facing up as he invites us to come to him. I love these images and reflect on them when I’m in church.

In recent months, scriptures of God extending his right hand or taking a believer’s right hand have stood out to me. In the psalms, David writes to God of “eternal pleasures at your right hand” and that “your right hand sustains me” (Ps. 16:11; Ps. 18:35, NIV, Life Application Bible). I have a hard time imagining God the Father’s hands or the Holy Spirit having hands, but I clearly see Jesus having hands, since he was both human and divine. The thought of Jesus taking my right hand or offering his own feels personal, intimate, and loving.

I think of Jesus depicted in that stained glass window where he holds the lamb in his right arm and think of myself as that lamb in his arms. I imagine that Jesus takes my right hand in his right hand and turns me around and close to his body to hold me in his lap, enfolding me with his right arm in a loving embrace, his hand over my hand. I love that thought. I find it comforting.

Jesus wants to embrace us in his loving arms. He extends both arms and holds us close with the very right hand that spread out the heavens at creation. He created the universe and he created us—and, he called it “good.” He is a personal, loving, caring shepherd. As the Good Shepherd, in an act of love and ultimate sacrifice, he lay down his life for his sheep—for you and for me.

So, since Jesus gave his life for me, it’s not so hard to imagine him holding me like that lamb in his arms in the stained glass or in a loving embrace with me on his lap with his right hand over mine. How wonderful to know that the creator of the universe loves me—loves me enough to spread the heavens with his right hand and to take me with that same hand in a loving embrace. He chooses to love me! He chooses to love you, too!

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. “Elpis” is the Greek word for “expectant hope.” He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, and a member of Spiritual Directors International. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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