At Home with God - Hands
Hands have many references in Scripture. Hands offer blessing, can be lifted in prayer and praise, are washed to represent spiritual cleansing, are laid on a sacrifice to transfer guilt. Hands are representative of having responsibility for something--it is in my hands to decide--and are actual instruments which can create with grace and precision.
When our hands are occupied with simple tasks such as doodling, coloring, or Play Doh, they can also help us think, find words to express our emotions, relieve our anxiety, and bring down our defenses. When we use our hands purposefully in these kinds of ways we can often connect with God and others on deeper levels.
How might God be inviting us to offer our hands to him in ways we haven't considered before? How might crayons and clay become tools that nurture relationships in our families and with God?
Have you ever found yourself processing some experience while you drive, getting a great idea in the shower, or fidgeting with an object on your desk while thinking through a problem? These experiences are examples of a simple truth. Doing tasks with our hands, that we don't need to think about, are activities that can free our minds to engage at a different level.
This form of multi-tasking can also aide our spiritual engagement as a family. Intentionally including some form of hand "work" in our Bible reading, spiritual discussions, and prayer times can open us to deeper conversation, awareness of our internal world and the Holy Spirit's work.
In addition, engaging with our children in hand "play" grows our relational connection. If these encounters are free of pressure to perform, they can create an experience of working shoulder to shoulder. Overtime, we grow in our ability to be with one another, to learn from one another and to share with one another as fellow pilgrims with God.
Here are some practical Ideas you can try on your own or as a family.
- Include a soft clay, like Play Doh in your prayer time. Take a few moments of quiet to manipulate the clay or work out any tension that you are feeling. Then turn your attention toward God and his presence with you. Tell God what is on your mind and heart. Spend a few minutes in silence listening for what God may want to say to you.
- Color while you listen to Scripture or worship music. Play an audio recording of the passage or songs you have chosen so that everyone is free to participate in the coloring. Use a coloring page that depicts the Bible story or a coloring page that has shapes or nature. Avoid coloring pages that remind children of other stories (e.g. Star Wars) or characters (e.g. Disney) that may be a distraction.
- Choose a time each day to do something with your hands with other family members. if you have children, give them the option to choose what you do. Think of yourself as a fellow participant in the activity rather than an authority figure or teacher. Engage with others without an agenda but with an openness to listen if they want to talk. Enjoy the time together and let your family know how you feel about them.
Here are some tools you can have in your box for hand engagement during spiritual conversations. Although you may have forms of these tools in a play box for kids, we encourage you to have special versions that belong only in your spiritual toolbox, reserved for times with God.
- Play Doh or other modeling clay
- Markers, crayons or colored pencils
- Color sheets of Bible stories, pictures of children with Jesus, pictures of creation, blank paper
- strings of beads
- knitting needles and yarn
- stress balls
- small smooth cross or stone to hold
Quick Tip: Let family members choose items they like to put in the box. Maybe there are some special crayons or markers they would like or an unusual color of Play Doh. Do a search online together to find coloring pages that appeal to kids and adults. Make it a priority to take care of these items as a family.
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you.
Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.
Romans 12:1 (NLT)
Our hands are such a beautiful gift from God.
Many of us naturally engage in activities that use our hands--knitting or gardening, woodworking or painting--but how often do we use our hands as an intentional way to connect more deeply with God? Using these hobbies as an opportunity to be with God can put us in a position to hear things we might have missed. Use this time of engagement in something you love, to commune with the One who loves you.
And what about our children? Our relationship with our own parents (whether positive or negative) influences our view of who God is and how He relates to us. Taking intentional time to join your child in doing a task he or she loves -- Legos or painting, tossing a ball or baking-- provides them with a picture of our Heavenly Father who is with them and enjoys them.
You may already be familiar with a number of the items suggested this week for your toolbox. Last week we provided links for two resources that are helpful for hand engagement (stress balls and bead strings).
In addition, here are a couple links to Bible story coloring pages. These links will help you access pictures that connect with stories and discussion topics you might have as a family. Download and print them out as needed: