the finger of God

Written by Sandra Heska King

PRAY EDITOR "Once a nurse, always a nurse," they say. But now I spend my days with laptop and camera in tow as I look for the extraordinary in the ordinary. I'm a Michigan gal, mom to two, grandmom to two, and wife to one. My husband and I live on 50 acres in the same 150-plus-year-old farmhouse he grew up in. I love this quote by Mary Oliver, "Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it." That's how I want to live. And I'm still learning how to be. Still.

April 30, 2013

life unfurls

I see God’s creative finger in all seasons.

But never more, I think, than in the spring when life unfurls.

These are the days when all that glitters is green.

Yet life is sometimes blood-tinged like the color of death in this new leaf.

That also carries the color of hope.

blood leaf

Because life is in the blood, and as long as there’s life, there’s hope.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the “finger of God.”

How the magicians in Pharaoh’s court recognized His hand in the gnats they could not reproduce by their secret arts.

Yet God’s power did not pierce Pharaoh’s hardened heart.

Since the gnats were on people and animals everywhere, the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.” But Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he would not listen, just as the LORD had said. ~Exodus 18:18-20

Jesus banished demons by the finger of God.

But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. ~Luke 11:20

God engraved His law on stone tablets with His own hand.

When the LORD finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the covenant law, the tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God. ~Exodus 31:8

And later He carves it into our own brick hearts.

“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. ~Jeremiah 31:33

He places His finger on our lives still today.

Touches the dead parts and the deep places with the dew of His love and artistry.

dew

But where was His finger on Friday?

When the train spanned the length of every crossing in town, where every gate blinked death and rang its bells for hours.

How it happened, nobody knows for sure. He was only 16 and walked the tracks home from school nearly every day. Maybe he wore headphones and didn’t hear the Canadian National bearing down on him. Neighbors heard the screech as the train lurched to a stop, partially derailed. A friend says he saw a body under the train and recognized the red jacket that Matt always wore. He was a block from home.

train

He was an only child, the son, it seems, of a single mom. A boy, says his obituary, who enjoyed solitude and long walks with his grandparents. A boy cut down in the spring of life, wearing a red jacket and toting a backpack.

The finger of God could have stopped the train, but didn’t. And there are no answers, but He is sovereign. And a whole community grieves.

And life is sometimes blood-tinged, but life is in the blood, and as long as there’s life, there’s hope.

I keep my binoculars on the kitchen counter these days so I can spy on the neighbors. They’ve built their nest high and deep, and soon we suspect there’ll be babies.

Because it’s spring. And life unfurls by the finger of God.

binoculars

bluebird nesting

30 Comments

  1. Patricia W Hunter

    So hard, isn’t it? Lord, be near to those who love that young man and are mourning his tragic death. Surround them with your love and comfort and keep them close.

    That part about spying on the neighbors through the binoculars caught me off guard for a moment until I saw the photo. If I had neighbors like that, I’d be spying on them, too.

    Reply
    • Sandra Heska King

      This whole post seems disjointed. And yet doesn’t life feel like that so many times? There’s death–an ugly death–and here I am reveling in life and beauty while my heart aches. On the other hand, there’s the whole circle of life…

      The memorial service is today. We didn’t know the boy, but in this small town, we know people who did. And the brother of one of our friends helped locate the body. Sad.

      Reply
  2. Diane Bailey

    I saw the prayer request come through. I’m so sorry he has left his mother, and his friends.

    Reply
  3. Nancy Franson

    It is so disjointed, Sandra, this amalgam of beauty and pain, joy and sorrow. And that’s why we need to revel, I guess. Otherwise the ugly and sad is just too much to bear.

    Reply
    • Sandra Heska King

      So true, Nancy. Sometimes it almost seems a betrayal of those who weep. Perhaps joy can–and should–come not just in the morning through the mourning. It all lives side by side.

      Reply
  4. Carol J. Garvin

    There is so much in this life that we don’t understand, but the new season always brings hope in God’s promises. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” – Romans 15:13

    Reply
  5. Lorretta Stembridge

    Sandra…I am so glad that God trusted you with this story. I believe, as writers, we often forget the beauty of this in the midst of the raw as the horror mingles with the holy all around us. So glad to journey through it with you.

    Reply
    • Sandra Heska King

      As horror mingles with holy. That’s a keeper. I’m glad to journey with you, too, Lorretta.

      Reply
  6. Sharon O

    wow. a lot of thoughts, some good ones … some sad ones… some anticipating… life is indeed hard to understand.

    Reply
    • Sandra Heska King

      I’m glad there’s One who understands for all of us. That He knows the beginning from the end, the end from the beginning, and everything in between.

      Reply
  7. Lyli Dunbar

    Praying for that mom today. I am an only child… thinking of my mom right now. I can’t even imagine…

    Reply
  8. Martha Orlando

    My heart cries for this young man’s family and friends . . . When tragedy strikes, it’s so human to ask, “God, where are you in all of this?” The answer is, He is there – always, in the joy and the sorrow. His finger is always upon us.
    Blessings, Sandy!

    Reply
    • Sandra Heska King

      This is such a fallen and fragile world, isn’t it? I’m so glad He’s in and through it all and that He sees and suffers with us and will bring beauty from all the ashes.

      Reply
  9. DeanneMoore

    Just saw a cardinal spying on me from the pines…thought of hope…red…the blood…the boy…the train…my boy who just came barreling through the “friend’s door” and another momma grieving…the finger of God…and how winter keeps holding spring at bay and how i want God to point his finger at a trumpeter and let the pain end.

    Reply
    • Sandra Heska King

      “…my boy who just came barreling through the “friend’s door” and another momma grieving…” Have I missed something, Dea?

      Oh yes. To hear the trumpet that will end the pain. Praying that we continue to have eyes to see the beauty in its midst.

      Reply
      • DeanneMoore

        No, you didn’t miss anything. Just disjointed myself when the boy came home from school just as i read this–my boy when another’s son never came, will never again… I guess I just wanted to sit with her and cry…because even hope we can grieve with those who grieve.

        Reply
        • Sandra Heska King

          Yours is a dear compassionate heart. I’m glad all is well. I grieve with her with you–and rejoice with you

          Reply
  10. Linda Chontos

    Spring’s other name is Hope, I think. Oh Sandy – it’s hard to make sense of it all with our finite minds. We trust because we know that He is good. It’s what I cling to.

    Reply
    • Sandra Heska King

      He is good. He is wise. And He is sovereign. That’s what always holds me.

      Reply
  11. Duane Scott

    Oh my, this, this is hope-filled and beautiful, Sandy. Now that I know you in person, I want to hear you read this to me, read it with your beautiful Christ-loving heart.

    And maybe I’d even hug you because Lord knows, this life is so full of chaos and sadness and it’s the little things, the little touches, the fingerprints of God that save us.

    Reply
    • Sandra Heska King

      What an absolute joy to know you face-to-face! And yes, we *are* God’s fingerprints, to each other. Yes.

      Reply
  12. Lori A. Heyd

    Oh this is tragic…..And the post may have seemed disjointed, but I understood it, every bit. Felt a bit disjointed myself today. Have been watching someone die slowly ever since Easter, no one knows why he keeps hanging on even Hospice, but God knows. Beautiful post….I will pray for this dear Mom. Lori

    Reply
    • Sandra Heska King

      I’m so sorry, Lori. That’s such a hard journey. Love to you, friend.

      Reply
  13. Kris Camealy

    Oh my. I don’t have words, Sandy. How God’s finger is on all these things, and yet–my heart hurts for those who endure this loss. Praying with you for your community this evening. XO

    Reply
    • Sandra Heska King

      And yet we know He holds us and carries us through it all, and we only need to trust. Maybe one day we’ll understand–or maybe in that day it won’t matter.

      Reply
  14. Doug Spurling

    Oh my, since predawn I’ve been writing about bereavement and now I read this.  Whether a day or a hundred years life is short and at times like these how do we rejoice for the time we had and mourn for the time we didn’t? Perhaps it’s remembering life is but a flicker, it burns white hot for only a moment but it sets the course for eternity.

    Reply
    • Sandra Heska King

      We just don’t know, do we? I’m so fearful every time I part with a loved one in a loveless way. Life is so very fragile.

      Reply

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the finger of God

by Sandra Heska King time to read: 3 min
31