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Handprints and Fingerprints

“Put your four fingers on the panel and hold still. Let’s try that again. Okay let’s try that again. One more time.”

By the fourth try it became obvious the machine was not able to record my fingerprints. At my age the whorls have rubbed off from years of housework, grading papers, and playing piano and guitar. I just have that kind of skin. Now this wasn’t an opportunity for me to try anything shady. No bank holdups in my future. What remains on my fingertips can still identify me.

Most fingerprints are unwanted, especially dirty ones on just-cleaned windows, furniture, and appliances. A thief has to be extra careful these days about leaving fingerprints behind since technology reveals their traces even inside of a glove that’s discarded near the scene.

Handprints are different. They are usually deliberate. Preschool art projects often begin with a child’s handprint. Famous people have left their foot and handprints in designated places of honor in Hollywood.

But if someone asks, “Did you have a hand in this?” it will rarely lead to a compliment. The same is true for the judgmental, “I can see your fingerprints all over this!” We are the culprit. We are to blame.

Yet when our Lord God is involved, the result is completely different. His hand and fingers create (Psalm 8:3; 19:1). they show His power and might (2 Chronicles 20:6; Exodus 8:19), and they fulfill His plans and promises (Deuteronomy 5:15; 1 Kings 8:15).

In the midst of all of this power our Lord Jesus reminds us that He also has us in His hand, not to crush us or press us down, but to protect us, lead us, and strengthen us. He takes hold of our hand to help us (Isaiah 41:13). The prophet Daniel reminds us that our Lord actually holds our life and all we do in His hand (Daniel 5:23b).

As leaders, managers, teachers, parents, what do we have our hands into? Are others glad to see our involvement, our handprint on what they are doing? Or do they tremble in dread knowing their job, position, promotion, or future is in our hands? Those unwanted fingerprints on their hearts are not easy to get rid of. Their lingering presence affects the whole climate and mood of a company, organization or family.

We do have a hand in making sure those entrusted to us prosper and are blessed under our care. If we lead so they feel our hand lifting them up, nurturing their work, then the only fingerprints on their hearts will be those of encouragement, understanding, support, kindness, forgiveness, and grace.

“Your future is in your hands!” is a popular slogan for recruiters and high school counselors. It’s meant to motivate and open doors to possibilities. It’s meant to encourage action. At the same time it can be intimidating. What if I can’t measure up to my dreams? What if I’m not happy with the choices I make? What if I fail?

The reality is my future is in the hands of my Lord Jesus. He’s there when I struggle to reach my goals. He promises that His power and love will pick up the pieces when things fall apart. When I welcome His hand on me, when I watch for His fingerprints on the good things that unfold in my life, I don’t fear the future.

I long for that touch of my Lord Jesus’ hand when I reach heaven. But until then, just like Ezra and Nehemiah, I can claim the gracious hand of my God is on me (Ezra 7:28; Nehemiah 2:19). He leaves behind on my life those welcome fingerprints and handprints. And like the proclamations of Ezra, I pray they are evident to those who are watching Him work in and through me (Ezra 8:22,31).

I know those faith fingerprints from my Lord Jesus are not something I did. They are His doing alone. “He touched me!” as the Bill Gaither song says. Now I can wipe those fingerprints of grace and faith away. That’s my free will to say no.

But if there is even a smudge left, my Lord Jesus will work on restoring the original. He will never give up on me. And He won’t give up on you either!

Leaving my guilt at the cross,


(First published at Lead Like Jesus February 2022)


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