In His Hands
I love to sing “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.” The song is a great comfort. Its message is true. He really has got the “little bitty babies,” “the mamas and the papas,” and “you and me, sister” in His hands.
“He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” is an American spiritual that has comforted people for decades. The great contralto Marian Anderson, who gave her first recital at Carnegie Hall in 1929 and who became the first African American to perform at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in 1955, sang it often in her concerts. The recording of the song by British teenager Laurie London was the number one record on the Billboard Magazine DJ’s Most Played chart for four weeks in April 1958. Perry Como, Andy Williams, and Pat Boone all recorded it, too. You’ll have to ask your parents or grandparents who Perry and Andy were and who Pat is.
Yesterday I found YouTube videos by country singer Loretta Lynn and children’s folksinger Raffi. YouTube also has a recording of Judy Garland (“Dorothy” in The Wizard of Oz) and her daughter Liza Minnelli singing it together. I listened to their duet as I watched a slide show of Liza growing up with her famous mother. I don’t know how to pick a favorite, but the YouTube of the African Children’s Choir performing it during a Bill and Gloria Gaither concert was wonderful.
Ray suggested that we stop by to see my mother on our way home yesterday. Of course, I loved that idea. I had been snapping photos for the last three weeks, and I continued as we got near my hometown. The day was bright and sunny and the dogwoods and redbuds were in bloom. It was breathtaking. We picked up mother and her husband Mr. Stantley at the Senior Citizens Center where she had spent the morning quilting. They both had lunch, and when we arrived they were playing Bingo.
It was too pretty to hurry back to Mother’s house, so we took a drive down country roads and enjoyed the springtime beauty. I don’t know a landscape I like better than a southern woods in April when God’s paintbrush has scattered dogwood blossoms here and redbud blossoms there among the barren trees and above the fallen leaves of autumn. One of Mother’s friends attributed the nip in the air to either “dogwood winter” or “redbud winter.” I asked Mother which it was. She always knows; it’s “redbud winter.”
The children who flock to our congregation on Wednesday nights love to sing “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,” too. We sang it last night. After three weeks on the road, Ray and I got back to our adopted hometown just five minutes before Wednesday night church. Mary Evelyn, Nate, and Clara greeted us. Clara wanted me to hold her and laid her head on my shoulder, but little Wesley looked at me a bit dumbfounded. Our youngest grandchild is also the youngest in our church’s seven-months-to-age-fifteen Wednesday Bible class of twenty-five to forty children, most of whom come on the church van. It makes as many as three runs some Wednesdays. A small group of ladies feeds our visitors and another small group of adults loves and calms and encourages them while Mary Evelyn teaches the whole group.
My job is to hold Wesley or Clara, and sometimes both. Last night I made Wesley’s hands do the motions to “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,” while a twelve-year -old girl watched with a beaming smile. By the middle of class time, I was getting the sweet Wesley smiles he gave before I went on the road. I guess my face came back to him.
When I looked through photos from Tuesday and yesterday and as I thought about what to tell you today, I saw wonders God has made and thought about “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.” It’s nice to be back home, but here, there, and everywhere, He’s got us in His hands–you and me, sister, and all our loved ones, too.
The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains,
The world, and those who dwell in it.
For He has founded it upon the seas
And established it upon the rivers.
There’s more peace in my life when I remember we’re in His Hands. As an aside… The image of the lilacs brought on a strange warm feeling of familiarity in spite of the reality that my lilacs are 2000 miles away from hers in the dry California high desert. Thank you for the smile and heart tug.