By J.R. Miller
"Into Your hands I commit my spirit; You have redeemed me."
These words are often quoted as if they were for the hour of death. Indeed, Jesus did use them as His last words on the cross, and they are fit words for any dying saint. But here the committal is for life, with its experiences.
The words imply complete surrender. They are suitable for the beginning of a Christian life, just such words as one should use who accepts of Christ and devotes himself to Him as Savior and Lord. If any are asking how one is to be saved--here is the answer. Commit yourself, body and soul, for time and for eternity, into the hands of Jesus Christ.
This committing of oneself means the committing also of one's affairs into the hands of Christ. Some people trust Christ as their Savior--but do not commit to Him the interests of their everyday life. Yet life commonly is full of experiences which no human wisdom can make clear. We cannot choose our own ways. We cannot tell what will be the effect on our lives one year, ten years, thirty years hence--of a certain decision or choice which we make today. The only safe thing to do--is to put all this into the hands of One who is wiser than we are.
A pastor was sitting at a little child's bedside with the anxious parents. It seemed that the child could not live. They were about to pray, and the pastor said to the parents, "What shall we ask God to do for your child?" He had been speaking of God's love and wisdom, telling them that their Heavenly Father makes no mistakes, that whatever He does will be right, that He knows what is best for the child and for them. So when he said, "What shall we ask God to do?" there was silence for a moment; then the father answered in sobs, "We dare not choose--leave it to Him." He could not have said a wiser, safer thing. No human parent can tell what is best for his child, whether to stay in this world and meet the battles, temptations, dangers, trials--or to be lifted over into the heavenly life, where there shall be no trial, no temptation, no peril.
It would be wise if we would trust God in the same way with all our affairs, never asking too earnestly, too importunately, certainly never unsubmissively--but leaving to God, what He knows to be best.
Christ teaches us the same lesson. He exhorts us never to be anxious. He points to the lilies and the birds. Your Father cares for the birds and clothes the lilies; much more will He care for and clothe you, His child. The other day one said, "I have at last learned how to live--just day by day. I used to worry about the future, looking far on into the years; now I have learned Christ's lesson--never to be anxious for the morrow--but to live as beautifully and as faithfully as I can today.
"Lord, for tomorrow and its needs,
I do not pray;
Keep me, my God, from stain of sin
Just for today."
"Into your hand." Of course, in a sense, God has no hands. He is a spirit--and a spirit has no flesh and bones. Yet all through the Scriptures, the hands of God are spoken of in a human way. Then Jesus Christ came, the Son of God, revealing in human life--the gentleness, the mercy, the helpfulness of God. We may speak, therefore, of the hands of Christ--as the hands of God. What wonderful hands they were!
They were gentle hands. They never caused pain to anyone. The other day in the hospital a friend who had passed through a serious operation, spoke with much feeling of the gentleness of the surgeon, how kind he had been, how careful his touch. But no most kindly surgeon ever dealt so softly with a wounded or diseased body--as Jesus dealt with wounded or sick hearts. No mother's hands were ever so careful with her child--as were the hands of Christ in His touches upon the weak, the troubled. We may trust ourselves absolutely to those hands--and know they will never hurt us. A prophet said of Him before He came, "He shall not break a bruised reed." What could be more worthless than a reed? Then a bruised reed--of what little value is it? Yet the hand of Christ is so gentle--that He will not even break off the reed that is bruised. We may trust our hearts in their sorrow, our spirits when crushed, our lives when bruised--to those hands, knowing that we will be most tenderly cared for.
The hands of Christ were strong hands. While more gentle than a mother's, they were omnipotent in their strength. At their lightest touch, diseases fled away, the dead were brought back to life, the fruitless tree was withered to its roots, the wild storm was quieted in a moment, and the turbulent waves of the sea sobbed themselves into perfect calm at the Master's feet.
There is nothing that the hands of Christ could not do. At the end He said, "I have overcome the world; all the powers of nature, all the powers of evil, even the mighty sovereignty of death, stand subdued." Surely we may entrust ourselves, with all our needs, weaknesses, dangers--into the hands of this strong Son of God. No enemy ever can overcome us--when He is keeping us. No hurt can touch us--when He is defending us. A mountain guide said to a tourist, who was timid about crossing some dangerous spot, "This hand never lost a man." The strongest human hand may sometimes fail us--but the hand of God never shall. We may trust it implicitly and without fear.
Christ's hands were saving hands. The weak, the weary, the troubled, the sorrowing, the sinful, all came to Christ--and never one that came to Him went away unhelped or unblessed. A penitent woman crept to His feet out of her sin, and His hand touched her, cleansed her--and set her among the redeemed! She had seen Christ, and one glimpse of His holy face, had consumed all the old sin, at the same time starting in her a new womanhood, pure, true, and beautiful. Thus always the hand of Christ can take the vilest sinner, blot out his sins, and build up new beauty in him.
The hands of Christ were safe hands. They never gave a wrong touch. They never led any one in the wrong way. Human friendship is shortsighted. The mother, in all her tenderness of heart, may do mistaken and foolish things for her child. The love may be most delicate and considerate, most strong and firm--and yet love does not always know what is best.
No responsibility in life is more serious than that under which we come when we take another life into our hands. This is true of the physician or the surgeon to whom we entrust ourselves for treatment in physical needs. Life is full of experiences in which with the utmost gentleness and strength, there is also the necessity for something more than human. A baby is born and is laid in the mother's arms. In its feebleness it says to her, with its first cry, "Into your hands I commend my spirit. Guard my life. Teach me my lessons. Train and discipline my powers. Educate me until I reach the strength of mind and heart and life which God wishes me to attain. Hide me from the world's harm. Let no evil thing touch me. Prepare me for this life and for eternity."
Can there be any more serious responsibility in life than this? Every mother that thinks at all knows that she, herself, with her weakness and ignorance, cannot keep her child's life. Her hands are not skillful enough, not strong enough.
Christian parents, conscious of their own weakness and lack of wisdom and skill, bring their little ones and put them into the hands of Christ, that He may guard them, teach them, and train them. The very language of their act is, "Into your hand, O Christ, I commit my child. I cannot take care of it myself. Will you keep it for me?" Then the parents' part is faithfulness in all duty to the child--example, teaching, restraining, guidance, training; to make the home atmosphere like the climate of heaven about the child's soul. God comes to the little child first in the mother. Blessed is the mother who truly interprets Christ, in her keeping and training of her child.
The same is true in its own measure in any human friendship. Think of the responsibility of being a friend! It is a sacred moment when God sends to you one to whom you are to be guide and guardian, one who trusts you, loves you, and comes under your influence. We are responsible for everything we do which may color, impress, or sway our new friend's life. If our influence is tainted, if we fail to be absolutely true in our words or acts--very serious will our accounting be when we stand before God.
So it is, when any of us commit our own life--to the love, the guiding care of another. Pure, wise, good, and rich human friendship is wondrously uplifting. But no human friend is perfect. None is wise enough to always choose the right things for us. None is wise enough to help us always in the truest and best ways. Some of the saddest wrecks in life, have come through mistakes in choosing friends. A gentle, unsuspecting girl trusts herself under the influence of one in whom she believes--but who proves unworthy, dragging her down to sorrow.
Then, even the sweetest and best human friends can stay with us only a little while. There is only one Friend to whom we can say with absolute confidence, "Into your hands I commit my life, unto the end, for you can guard me from stumbling and present me faultless before God at the last!" The hands of Christ are safe and sure, both for present and eternal keeping. I am glad I have a Friend who will take me as I am, make me what I ought to be, then guard and guide me through all possible experiences, and bring me at last to heaven's gate without blemish.
Christ's hands are eternal. They never will be folded in death's stillness. Beautiful are those words in Deuteronomy, "Underneath are the everlasting arms." Human arms may be strong and gentle, and may hold us fast in love's embrace today--but tomorrow they will be folded in the stillness of death, and we can find no comfort in them. One of the saddest things one ever sees--is a little child crying bitterly by its mother's coffin. Heretofore the cry was never in vain--but now there is no answer. But the hands into which we are asked to commit the keeping of our lives--are everlasting!
"Father, into your hands I commit My spirit." Jesus used these words when He was dying. He was about to pass into the strange mysteries of the valley of shadows. It was an unfamiliar way to Him--He had never gone that way before. But He was not afraid. So He said, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." That was all dying meant to Him. That is all dying will be to us--if we are in the keeping of Christ--only the breathing out of our spirit, into the hands of our Redeemer. When we watch our friends passing out from us, it seems to us that they will be lonely, that they will be overwhelmed with the strangeness of the way. But no--a face like our own face--will beam its love upon them the moment the human faces vanish from their vision. A hand like our own hand--will clasp theirs the moment our hand lets go its clasp. We talk about the dark valley--but there is no dark valley for those who love Christ. Dying for a believer--is only coming up closer to Jesus Christ. We need not dread to lay our loved ones into His hands. He will take most gentle care of them, and will give them back to us in radiant beauty, when we come to the time of our home-going.
This is our lesson: for life, for death--we commit ourselves into the hands of Christ, our Redeemer.
Life is full of danger--it is never easy to live in this world. It is never easy to send our children out into a world, of whose danger and evil we know so much and yet so little. Many a mother dreads to have her child go out from her safe and gentle home of love, even for an hour, to meet other children in the streets. The future is all dark to us. We know not what lies before us any moment. Here is the only ground of confidence and peace, "Into your hands I commit my spirit." Into Your hands, all blessed Christ, I commit my dear ones, my friends. Into Your hands, O Redeemer, I will commit my spirit as I enter the unseen world. "Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have redeemed me, O Lord God of truth."