In His Hands draws from the wellspring of the Bible's rich traditions and brings to life, in a collection of short stories, key figures whose lives God touched with His grace. The stories begin with Adam, the father of all people, and end with Mary, the mother of the Lord of all people. In between, stories reveal the depths of the hearts of the Old Testament's patriarchs and matriarchs and the New Testament's disciples of Jesus and participants in His Passion.
In these short stories, A.J. Cork finds in biblical characters, who may seem unapproachable or almost immovably iconic, like figures carved in a great frieze, the little touches of the ordinary that help readers to see in them the common humanity shared across the millennia. Some of the stories begin with brief introductory passages that set the scenes. Others leap right into the lives of the characters, animating their stories with vivid descriptions, revealing dialogue, and finely sketched details of locales and events.
Whether you are familiar with the Bible's characters from reading the Scriptures or you have always wondered about Noah and Abraham, Moses and Rahab, Mary and Peter, and Nicodemus and Barabbas, In His Hands will offer you entertainment and education. This collection will help you to encounter the figures whose lives grace the pages of the Bible and whose memories touch the hearts of everyone who hears how God has worked in and through them to show His glory.
Mary's mother's story
We don't know her name. We don't know her husband's name. All we do know, she was the mother of Mary, Jesus mother.
I will call her Deborah and her husband James. He must have died previously, as he isn't mentioned in the narrative.
Deborah and James were devoted Jewish parents and raised their children carefully in all the Jewish traditions. How they loved their children. He made a good living and Deborah, a loving mother. Her family; her world! She enjoyed every minute of it.
They celebrated all the festive traditional celebrations with delight. They were saddened to see how few took it seriously. Many had drifted away from their history and the meaning of these holidays. Some would sometimes join in, but it seemed to mean little.... Just a place to go and something to do!
Deborah and James schooled their children in the faith. Not in a heavy handed way, but in love. The children responded in kind. This family lived their faith, at home, and in public with joy and humility.
Now that James had died, Mary was their only child still at home. She was the youngest and she was a delight! She woke up smiling and happy every morning. She had an infectious laugh and like a sponge soaking up the faith of her family. Other siblings had all married and living in their own homes, starting their own families. Deborah enjoyed her young daughter and their time together even more.
I will never forget the morning Mary came to me saying, "Mother, I have had a dream; a vision, I am not sure which. It was disturbing and yet peaceful." "I feel I was completely awake, as it was so very real to me."
"Please hear me out, and stay sitting. This may overwhelm you." "I believe it was so! It is still most vivid, and you know how often things I have dreamed have come to pass."
I sat there almost afraid to breathe or move. Fearing what I was about to hear. How often I had witnessed Mary's dreams come to pass! Sometimes good things; and some not so good; some bad things like, accident or a death in the family. I felt God had given her a gift, preparing us for things to come. My mind was racing!
"Mother, I know you believe Gabriel is God's messenger. He was the one who came to me." "He identified himself and told me God had sent him to speak to me." "Throughout the ages of our history Gabriel has come to deliver God's message to His people."
For a moment I just sat there stunned. Mary sat in silence for a few moments to observe my reaction. She measured her words carefully to see if she should continue. I gathered my courage and said, "Mary, please continue."
"Mother." She waited for another moment as if searching for the right words, "He said, Greetings, you are highly favored." "The Lord is with you." I was so afraid and troubled, wondering what kind of message he might have come to give me. My heart was pounding! I am sure I was very much awake!
Gabriel said. "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found such favor with God' "
Mary said, "The next sentence startled me even more. More than anything I have ever heard in my life!"
"You will be with child and give birth to a son and you will call his name Jesus."
Deborah's eyes were wide and she could not make a sound. When she had somewhat recovered, she said, "well, that makes sense. You are engaged to be married and I am sure you will have a family. A son will be a blessing." Deborah was trying hard to rationalize this whole situation.
"No mother!" "He went on to say." ‘He will be great and he will be called the Son of the Most High.' "The Lord will give him the throne of his ancestor, King David!" "He will reign over the house of Jacob forever." "His kingdom will never end!"
"Mary, how can this be?" My mind was spinning. I thought I would faint!
"Mother, that was exactly my reaction." I said: "How can this be? I am a virgin and have not known a man?" He very calmly explained, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you. " "The power of the Holy Spirit will overshadow you. The Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God."
I was stunned! Then Mary said "and there is more." "He told me our relative Elizabeth, in her old age and far beyond her child bearing years has conceived and she is in her sixth month!"
I gasped at the news! Elizabeth was old! Zachariah was old! Not just a few years old,... but ancient old! I had expected news at any moment they had died of old age! The family had been preparing for that kind of news and arranging a beautiful funeral: Not a baby shower!
"Mary, are you sure he said Elizabeth and Zachariah?" "Yes Mother, I am sure."
Mary continued. "I believed all Gabriel had told me. I believed! I fell down and worshiped, how could I refuse such an honor from my Lord and my God?" "I am the Lord's servant, and I am willing to do whatever he wants." "May everything you have said come to pass." And then the angel, Gabriel, disappeared.
The two of us sat in silence for some time, absorbing all this. We had many things to talk over, such as how to tell Joseph, and what his reaction would be. We came to the conclusion, this is of God, and he will make a way. At that moment Mary said, "I will go visit Elizabeth. She will understand, as she has had such a visit from Gabriel too." We both knew this was the course of action we should follow.
A.J. Cork is joyfully working on her life's eighth decade. After moving from Oregon to Alaska forty years ago in pursuit of summer construction work, she finds herself enchanted by the land's blending of God's handiwork in nature with people's creativity in culture. A growing family has welcomed nineteen great-grandchildren.
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