Each time I drive out of , and head south on the 405, I am driving away from people I love--whose burdens I share, whose struggles have, in some sense, become my own. But I realize I have no choice but to leave my dear friends in God’s hands . . . a very good place to be.
Three months ago, on registration day at my son’s middle school, I was
standing on the patio talking to my friend when Cary joined our
conversation. Immediately, my eye went to the shiny dog tag she wore around her neck; Cheri noticed it too, and inquired about it. ‘Oh, it is a marketing piece for the new company I work for’. A cool symbol graced the center, interlocking I,G,H, with ‘In God’s Hands’ scripted neatly around it.
Immediately, I thought, ‘How can I get some of those dog tags for my Long Beach street friends? The simple message was powerful, yet so beautiful. Well, Cary graced me with as many as she could get, and I happily but
prudently gave one to each of the ‘faithful’ in our tight Sanctuary
circle. How proudly they placed them around their necks!
Perhaps the proudest wearer of all has been the Duke of Earl. A Marine vet, the notion of wearing a dog tag was familiar, somewhat nostalgic, and the message on this tag quite welcome. Still living on the street when he first got his, I think he looked at it as a Christian talisman that would protect him. Besides, the Duke of Earl has a rich heritage of Scripture tucked deep inside him—he knows the significance of his life being “in God’s hands”.
You know, human hands must be some of the most incredible things that God hath created. Look at your hands—strength, utility, friendship, and nurturing are all part of what the Creator had in mind. Hands provide a covering of that which they grasp, just as God is the covering for his child. Listen to the words of Christ: My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. And I give
them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone
snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is
greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of my Father's
hand. I and my Father are one.'' (John 10.27-30)
The next time I really took note of the dog tag around someone’s neck could be described as a study in contrast. It was the day Sam showed up at the Sanctuary, still drunk, filthy, and
very smelly, but with his “In God’s Hands” dog tag around his neck. Sam knew where to come that day—where he would find warmth, safety, encouragement, and perhaps a hand up. Throughout our Bible discussion, he cried, telling Barb he was ‘finished’. Now
I have known Sam for a year, and he has talked about rehab since I
first met him, but never found the strength to follow through. Meanwhile,
this gentle soul somehow stayed alive on the mean streets of Long Beach
… but on this day, he had reached the end of himself.
Well, God apparently had reserved a place up the highway with Sam’s name on
it, because within two hours of our meeting, I had checked him in at
“First Step” to begin his long road back to himself. Before
I headed back to the 405, I turned around to look at him one last
time--dirty face, split lips, filthy clothes, and one very shiny dog tag
that read “In God’s Hands”. I didn’t know too much about
the alcohol detox, but I knew he was in for several days of hell. ‘Yes,
Lord’ I breathed, ‘he is in your hands …a good place to be.’
The Duke of Earl has been off the streets for a couple months now, safely
ensconced in a studio apartment two miles from what we called his
‘street condo’ by the park. Praise God. He
returns to Lincoln Park regularly though, and the homies want to know
what’s changed him … in his street vernacular, he lets them know he is
‘doing it legit’-- he is trying to do it God’s way now. I’m
sure that explains why several Crips have shown up at the Sanctuary …
they wanna know where they can get one of those ‘In God’s Hands’ dog
tags … they wanna know where they can get some of what Duke’s got.
See, the streets are rough … yeah, it is almost impossible to get off the
street unless somebody comes to your side, and gives you a hand up, and
walks alongside for a while. Godly people give of
themselves like that because they are keenly aware that none of us is
anything unless we are in God’s hands. In God’s hands … the only place to be.
*Sam, not his real name, just graduated from First Step, and moved to a Sober
Living place … he is clean, returning to his jovial, intelligent self,
still sporting his dog tag.
**Cary works for the company, IN GOD’S HANDS, a new clothing company, with a wonderful, God-honoring story behind it. Check it out: http://www.ingodshands.com/