The Touch of God

I was looking for elk hide, enough to make a new set of buckskins for the Fort Bridger Mountain Man rendezvous. A banker friend, who looked like a 1920 fur trapper, recommended I “wander up to St. Maries, Idaho, and see my friend Lars Eidnes. He’s got more leathers than the Hudson Bay Company.”

That’s why I was standing in a fur trader’s warehouse among stacks of every kind of animal skin available in North America.

Awed by where I stood, and by the tall smiling man before me, I mumbled, “I’d like to purchase enough elk leather for a new set of buckskins.” Lars chuckled and began to pull hides from a stack labeled “Elk — garment quality.”

We quickly settled on a hefty hide, and I reached for my wallet.

“Before we finalize this deal,” Lars said, “I have a question for you.”

“Go ahead,” I answered.

“Do you know how leather gloves are made?”

“Not yet,” I laughed.

What Lars told me next has changed my understanding of God’s grace.

“Well, first thing, something has to die.[1] Second thing, I need to know your hand size. The true size of your fingers and wrist. My gloves must be perfect fits for your hands.[2]

“When it’s thoroughly dead, I skin it and split the hide into the thinnest leather possible, so thin that you’ll hardly know you’re wearing it.[3]

“Then I dump it into one of those fragrant barrels and leave it till every single cell of the hide is filled with the special curing oils I’ve prepared. Sometimes a long time. Sometimes shorter. I do take it out and pound on it some. Depends on the hide.[4]

“Next, I ask what color of glove you’d like to wear. See those vats over there? You want white, that’s vat No. 3. You want black, that’s No. 6. You choose.

“OK. When it’s all split, cured, colored and dried, I place the patterns of your hands on it and cut carefully around each finger and knuckle, leaving just enough extra for a perfect fit. Then I poke holes where the oiled sinew threads will go. And if you want some foofaraw, I drill holes for that too.[5]

“When they’re ready, I hand the gloves to you and watch as you pull 'em on. I want to see the joy come into your face the first time you feel 'em on your hands.[6]

“Now listen up!”

My mind was already at full attention.

“There’s a Bible verse that talks about how we’ve got to die so God can get inside us and touch the world through our hands, right? Like being born again?”[7]

I nodded.

“Well, it’s not easy becoming a glove on His hands. You die. You get split and split again. You get whacked. You get cured in a vat of Holy Spirit oil. You get tinted to His desire, poked and sewed to a perfect fit. And you get the foofaraw of His grace stitched all over you. Then He slips inside you and begins touching the world so as to make it a bigger, safer, happier, better place …His place.”[8]

My new friend, Lars, waved from the warehouse door as I walked back to the car. I was richer, by far, than when I’d arrived.

 

[1] Col. 3:1–3

[2] John 14:1–3

[3] Rom. 8:10

[4] Matt. 10:20; John 14:17

[5] Matt. 5:10,11

[6] Col. 3:16

[7] John 3:1–16

[8] Col. 1:27

March 18, 2017 / Just Like Jesus
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