Nothing In My Hand I Bring
When I was young a common practice at children’s Bible services was to employ object lessons. We youngsters were invited to bring an object; a piece of bread, a ball of white wool, a nail. The objects had to be linked to a Bible verse such as John 6:35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: or Isaiah 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool, or John 20:25 Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. It helped us to learn Scripture verses and opened up a practical and tangible connection with the Bible stories we heard week by week.
One night a girl came without her object. As others stepped forward to show their items and give their verses we wondered what would happen when it came to her. We did not have to wait long. The girl rose at her turn and held up her empty hand. Somebody laughed, but she said, straight-faced, “This reminds me of Samson killing the lion in Judges 14:6 and he had nothing in his hand.” The teacher was satisfied. That, too, was a good object lesson.
We often sing Toplady’s hymn Rock of Ages and the line, ‘Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling.’ We sing it, but I fear we fail to understand just how empty our hand must be to receive first the blessings of grace in salvation and, also, the ongoing mercies of our union with Christ. How often do we, the Lord’s people, lament our losses when one by one the things most precious to us are taken from our hand? Yet, do we not find that our compensations are sweeter when the Lord draws near to us in our pain?
Job was made to know empty-handedness. He learned what it was both to have and then to have not. Our natural inclination is to assume that joy is greater in the getting of things, but spiritually speaking, true joy is experienced in the loss of things. Only as the Lord is more clearly heard and seen and felt in our soul do we learn Christ. How shall we hear the still small voice when the world is shouting in our ear, or glimpse, or sense the Spirit move in a heart filled with the cares of this world?
The Lord’s people are most blessed when they hold the things of this world in a gentle grip. One by one every treasure of this life must be relinquished and it is best to let them go easily.
Our Saviour is our pattern. Shall we seek more than Him whose friends forsook Him and fled, whose freedom was forfeit, whose body was wracked with pain unto death? “Therefore”, says Paul, “I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong”.
“For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich” (2 Corinthians 12:10; and 8:9).
He is our object lesson.
Peter Meney is the Pastor of New Focus Church Online and the Editor of "New Focus Magazine" and publisher of sovereign grace material under the Go Publications imprint. The purpose and aim of the magazine and books is to spread as widely as possible the gospel of Jesus Christ and the message of free, sovereign grace found in the Holy Bible, the Word of God.