First: It’s amazing what God can do with one finger.
Kathryn is on the ministerial staff of a large church in a nearby state. Recently, during a visit there, I spent a Sunday sketching members at an open house they were conducting. A few days later, she called to ask if I could do a drawing of her family as an unusual Christmas gift.
At my request, she sent along a number of photographs of the family–herself, her brother, and their parents. She also included shots of their house, Dad with his prized sports car, and the beloved family cat.
One picture in particular caught my attention.
The four of them are standing together laughing. The brother has his arm around Kathryn. His fingers are barely visible on the far side of her arm.
Therein lies the problem.
There are six fingers showing.
Now, mom’s arm is clearly hanging down behind, so the extra digit cannot belong to her. Dad is on the far side and does not appear to be hugging anyone. So whose finger is it?
Kathryn and I went back and forth, exchanging funny emails on the subject as we tried to figure out the mystery of the extra digit.
She suggested that this picture was taken when she was ordained into the ministry of her denomination, so clearly the Lord’s hand was upon her. That could well be His finger. (She inserted a smiley-face.)
Eventually, we figured it out, at least to my satisfaction. Dad’s arm must have been around mom, and we’re seeing only the top portion of his thumb. Not a mystery after all, just an unusual photograph. (Photographs can produce awkward poses, I am well aware, and often may suggest things that are not there. But, that’s a subject for another time.)
I am left, however, reflecting on the Lord’s hand being upon Kathryn, and her possessing a photo of the very finger of God. How good would that be!
The Lord Jesus actually said something about God’s finger.
“But if I cast out demons with the finger of God, then surely the Kingdom of God has come upon you.” (Luke 11:20)
In effect, the Lord was telling His detractors, “You see me casting out devils with the little finger of God. Then, consider the implications of that– He is here and the Kingdom has arrived in your midst!”
We are familiar with the expression, “I could do (such-and-such) with my little finger,” to indicate how simple a chore is, how effortlessly we could accomplish it.
Perhaps that’s how much muscle our Lord had to summons to defeat the devil. Piece of cake. Nothing to it. “Take that, adversary! Now, get behind me!”
On the morning our Lord rose from the dead, an angel is seen rolling away the stone from the sepulcher–not to let Jesus out but the people in. Then, he does something most unusual for angels: sits down on top of it. (Matthew 28:2)
I love that.We never see angels sitting in the Bible. They’re always “flames of fire,” always moving, serving, working. But this guy takes a load off and parks on the huge round stone.
Perhaps this image–the angel squatting atop the stone–reflects something of an attitude on his part. Maybe he’s rubbing it in just a bit, telling the defeated forces of wickedness, “Stick a fork in it. You’re done.”
In the NFL, the referee would probably flag the angel for taunting. Which, by the way, is a good thing to do–to taunt the devil, rub his defeat in his face a little.
Scripture does it, you know.
After his teachings regarding the resurrection of Jesus and the promised raising of all God’s faithful, the Apostle Paul breaks into this chant: “O death, where is thy sting (now)? O grave, where is thy victory (now)?” (I Corinthians 15:55) (He’s quoting from Hosea 13:14, where the 8th Century prophet did the same thing, far in advance of the reality. Now, in the risen Christ, we may finally laugh at death and ridicule the devil.)
Additional note: In Daniel 5:5, we see “the fingers of a man’s hand” writing God’s judgment on the wall to Belshazzar and the Babylonians. Wonder if this was also God’s hand, and His very fingers. Could be.
Second: To locate my heart, start by looking for my treasure.
I’m not a tool person, primarily because I’m not a “fix-it” person. So, the tool store in the strip mall a mile from my house has never interested me one bit, and I’ve never stepped inside.
Something has happened to change my interest in that store.
My teenage grandson has gone to work there in the evenings after school and on Saturdays. Today, when a magazine arrived with a double-page ad for that store, I found myself studying it. There are the usual things this Baptist preacher has zero use for: a welding helmet, a 14 horsepower air compressor, a metal saw, and a trailer hitch. I’m hoping no one reads this and goes out and buys me any of those as a Christmas gift. I’ll also not be needing a portable generator for $89.99 or a torque wrench, whatever that is, for $9.99.
So, why am I interested in that store?
Our Lord said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21).
That’s how it works. My child or grandchild goes off to school or takes a job and moves to a distant city and suddenly, I’m paying close attention to everything that happens in that school, in that area.
Early on, as a beginning minister, I thought this was a misreading of that text. It seemed to me that wherever your heart was, that’s where you put your treasure. Just a basic statement that people give to whatever they value. And there’s great truth there.
But what our Lord said was much more profound and of greater help.
This truth from our Lord–the heart follows our treasure–tells us how to increase the love God’s people have for His work: “Invest in it.” When you put your money and your time and energies (the treasures of our earthly lives) into the Lord’s work–a church, a children’s home, a missionary organization, etc.–you will find yourself praying for them and doing more to support their work.
Likewise, this is a dead giveaway as to why some people care little for the things of God: they have nothing invested in it.
I’m remembering a pastor who got fed up with the constant complaining of some church member on how decisions were made in that church, how money was misspent, and such. Finally, the exasperated pastor–who knew to the penny how little this Pharisee was actually putting into the offering–opened a janitorial closet, pulled out a couple of brooms and handed them to the man. “Here!” he said. “This is what your offerings purchased this year. Take them and be gone!”
(Now, having told that, I need to point out why it’s not a perfect story to tell. The widow of Mark 12:41ff gave so little that her offerings would not have purchased even one broom. So, in telling this, we must emphasize that the issue is the man’s belligerent attitude, not the size of his contribution. )