Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God. Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest Return, ye children of men. For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night. Thou carriest them away as with a flood; they are as a sleep: in the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down, and withereth. For we are consumed by thine anger, and by thy wrath are we troubled. Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance. For all our days are passed away in thy wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told. The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. Who knoweth the power of thine anger? even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath. So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. Return, O Lord, how long? and let it repent thee concerning thy servants. O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Make us glad according to the days wherein thou hast afflicted us, and the years wherein we have seen evil. Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children. And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it. Psalm 90:1-17
Whenever I read this particular Psalm, it always reminds me of how very short life really is. It reminds me of how very incomplete we are, in this corruptible state. It tells us that God expects us to wisely use the time that He has allotted to each of us. God reminds us that without His mercy, we may not experience gladness:
O satisfy us early with thy mercy: That we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Makes us glad according to the days wherein thou has afflicted us and the years wherein we have seen evil (Psalm 90: 14,15)
And as a result of that mercy whose fruits are gladness, the psalmist continues with this:
Let your work appear unto your servants, and your glory unto their children. And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us: (holy spirit) and establish you Lord the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish you it.
So when I read this ďestablish the work of our handsĒ in conjunction
with God telling us that life is too short to take one moment for granted, I canít
help but to say to God, Lord, How then do I become Heavenís hands?
Lord, how do I let your Spirit and your mercy, and your grace, that is your beauty, your countenance, your presence, become so much a part of me, that I have become Heavenís hands? How will my children know about the work that I have done, while I was alive on this earth?
Well, my beloved brothers and sisters, we live in a world that offers impersonal solutions for personal problems.
Our humanitarian brothers and sisters tell us that if we work hard enough at collecting monetary donations to solve the problems of world hunger through the late night television guilt trip infomercials, then the problems of hunger will disappear, because we have saved another child.
But, when we become Heavenís hands, then we are not content with feeding programs that allow us to feel good about a $20.00 a year donation to Southeast Africa. When we become Heavenís hands, then we are not content with being Heavenís hands only in our own back yard.
When we become Heavenís hands, then we are concerned about feeding people because they are hungry. We are concerned about why the United States continues to ship rotten food to our brothers and sisters in Third and Fourth World countries, while still charging them at a rate whereby their childrenís children would not be able to pay back the debt.
When we become heavenís hands, then we are to be concerned that too much food is wasted at our own dinner tables, therefore, we must find a way to bless somebody else, just because the beauty of the Lord of God has blessed us.
Yes, my brothers and sisters, hunger is not a humanitarian problem but a personal problem that will not be resolved unless Godís love is central to the solution. So we must continue to ask God, How do I become Heavenís hands?
Well, you may not have a clue about how to feed the hungry, but this impersonal world of ours at times tells us that we must take care of ourselves first. You know, self preservation is necessary. If I donít look out for me, then who will?
But when God allows us to become Heavenís hands, we are reminded that Jesus said the very hairs of our heads are all numbered, therefore we are not to fear. If Godís eye is on the sparrow, then we can be assured that His eye is watching each of us.
As Heavenís hands, then we must be a people who encourages somebody else along this journey. Sometimes, we hurt so much. Sometimes, we hurt so much that we canít even cry. Maybe, we are struggling with that thorn in our side, and we just canít make the pain go away.
Self-preservation tells you that your pain is more serious than someone elseís pain; however the beauty of the Lord our God allows us to be Heavenís hands to the person who is suffering. As we practice the art of becoming Heavenís hands, then we are able to wrap our arms around our suffering sister or our brutalized brother until God removes the thorn from His side.
Well, preacher, you have told me what Heavenís hands do, but how do I become Heavenís hands? Well, the primary requirement to becoming Heavenís hands is knowing that life is too short not to love one another, unconditionally. Becoming Heavenís hands is knowing the difference between Eros love and agape love. Agape love is loving somebody in spite of...
There is no one that can help somebody else to change if love for God is not the motive. There is no one that can help somebody else along this journey if the focus is not Jesus. There is no one who is able to focus on Jesus and despise another person.
I John 3:14 says, ďWe know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth [lives] in deathĒ.
Becoming Heavenís hands means that we must love unconditionally, and to love unconditionally means that we must practice love outside of our comfort zones. Loving those people who we believe hate us is not comfortable. But, when we ask God to be his hands in this world, then we must be like Jesus. We must embrace those that we donít even want to touch.
The next requirement to becoming Heavenís hands and loving the person next to us or the one who does not deserve to be loved, means that our will must be in alignment with the Father. Weíve got to ask the mind that is in Christ Jesus to live on the inside of our hearts.
That means that we must be like Jesus. We have got to give love to the very people that we donít know, weíve got to show compassion to the very person who has only been shown contention, we have got to practice love with the person whose motives have not been honest, we have got to love our brothers and sisters from the inside out.
My brothers and sisters, we have got to be in a condition to become Heavenís hands. That is, if we are broken and cracked, then we have got to be fixed. If we are sick, then it is time to be healed.
Today is the day that you must ask yourself about yourself. Say self: Can God effectively use me to be His hands? Have I asked God to forgive me for the secret sins in the deep and dark rooms of my heart? Can I be your hands Lord? Is my faith strong enough to pick somebody up along this journey? Is my love deep enough to trust that you will shower your mercy upon me when I can go no further? And Lord, am I able to love my brothers and sisters in the body of Christ, unconditionally? Lastly, Lord will the work of my hands on this earth be able to be an authentic and true witness to my childrenís children?
Rev. Christilene Whalen Weaver is pastor of Quinn Chaple AME Church in Moreno Valley, California. Rev. Weaver received her Master of Divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School. This sermon is used by permission.