It may have been a romantic gesture in the song, but holding hands means much more than that. Every time we pray in our assembly of saints, two hands instantly reach for mine and hold them until the amens echo around the building.
The hand on my right is my husband’s. After spending over forty-five years together, it seems only natural. We are always touching, patting, and hugging. To walk past one another without some sort of physical contact is unthinkable. What has made this relationship even more remarkable though, is the spiritual sharing and touching. When two people pray for the same things, hope for the same things, and endure the same things with the help of the same Comforter, two people who were so unalike in the beginning that several people tried to talk us out of this marriage, the closeness can only be with the help of the Divine Creator who united us in far more than holy matrimony.
The other hand belongs to a friend, someone I have known for several years now, who has supported me in every way imaginable, who has stood by me and has lifted my name up in prayer, who has shared her own trials with me and allowed me to help her as well, someone who lives nearly fifty miles from me, whom I would never have known except that we share the same Savior and the same hope and a place in the same spiritual family.
Some people view holding hands in prayer as nothing more than an outward show of emotionalism. To me those hands signify the unifying power of the grace of God. That unity began with 12 men who would never have come together in any other way, and soon spread to add one more. Some were urbane city dwellers who looked down on lowly Galileans. Some were working class men while another was a highly educated Pharisee. Some had Hebrew/Aramaic names while others’ names bore the influence of Hellenism. One was a Zealot and another his political enemy, a tax collector. Yet the Lord brought them all together in a unity that conquered the world.
I have held black hands, brown hands and white hands. I have held plump soft hands and rough calloused hands. I have held the tender hands of the young and the withered hands of the old. I have held the hands of lawyers and doctors and plumbers and farmers, teachers and nurses and secretaries and homemakers, hands that hammer nails and hands that type on computer keyboards, hands that cook and sew and even hands that carry a weapon on the job. We all have this in common—our Lord saved us when none of us deserved it. That is His unifying power.
The hand of God is the one that makes all of our hands worth holding.
May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. Romans 15:5-7