I ran across an entry in my Big Book of Stuff showing that today is "Red Hand Day."

Not knowing what it meant, I did some checking and found out it's a day each year in which pleas are made to political leaders, and events are staged around the world, to draw attention to children who are forced to serve as soldiers in wars and armed conflicts.

The day was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in May of 2000.  Today the worldwide number of child soldiers is estimated to be somewhere around 250 thousand - a third of whom are girls.

After running across the declaration, it got me thinking about a touching story I received from a listener several years ago.  It's entitled "Grandpa's Hands."  It had such an impact on me that I actually kept it.  The story doesn't necessarily tie into the issue of "child soldiers," but it does make a good point and forces you to think.  Trust me, you'll never look at your hands the same way ever again.

Grandpa's Hands

Grandpa, some ninety years plus, sat feebly on the patio bench.  He didn't move, just sat with his head down staring at his hands, when his granddaughter sat down beside him.  He didn't acknowledge her presence at all, making the woman wonder if he was OK.

Finally, not really wanting to disturb him but wanting to check on him at the same time, she asked him if he was OK.

He raised his head and looked at her and smiled and said, "Yes, I'm fine.  Thank you for asking."

"I didn't mean to disturb you Grandpa," said the woman, "but you were just staring at your hands and I wanted to make sure you were OK."

"Have you ever looked at your hands," the Grandfather said, "I mean really looked at them?"

The woman slowly opened her hands and stared down at them.  She turned them over, palms up and then palms down.  "No, I guess I've never really paid any attention to my hands," she said.

The elderly man then smiled and said, "Stop and think for a moment about the hands you have, how they have served you well throughout your years.  These hands, though wrinkled, shriveled, and weak have been the tools I have used all my life to reach out and grab and embrace life.  They put food in my mouth and clothes on my back.  As a child my mother taught me to fold them in prayer.  They tied my shoes and pulled on my boots.  They've been dirty, scraped and raw, swollen and bent.  They were uneasy and clumsy when I tried to hold my newborn daughter - your mom.  Decorated with my wedding band, they showed the world that I was married and loved someone very special.  They trembled and shook when I buried my parents and spouse and walked my daughter down the aisle.  They covered my face, combed my hair, and washed and cleaned the rest of my body.  They've been sticky and wet, bent and broken, dried and raw.  And to this day, when not much of anything else of me works real well, these hands hold me up, lay me down, and again continue to fold in prayer.  These hands are the mark of where I've been and the ruggedness of my life.  But more importantly, it'll be these hands that God will reach out and take when he leads me home."