A young mother laid her baby girl to sleep in her cradle. I’ll just go to the neighbors for a minute to visit, she thought to herself. I haven’t had time to talk to her for such a long time. But while she and the neighbor were chatting, the city fire alarm sent a chill through them both.
“Don’t worry,” said the neighbor. “Most likely it’s only a grass fire. There are lots of them at this time of year. I’m sure the fire isn’t anywhere near here.”
“But listen,” said the mother. “I think I hear the fire engine coming this way. Look! People are running down the street-running toward my house!”
Without another word she dashed into the street and ran with the gathering crowd. Then she saw it. Her own house was on fire! Smoke and flames were already pouring through the roof.
“My baby!” she cried frantically. “My baby!”
The crowd was thick around the house, but she pushed and shoved until she reached the door. A fireman stopped her and said, “You can’t go in there! You will be burned!”
But the mother cried, “Let me go! Let me go!” as she broke free and dashed into the flaming house.
She knew just where to go. Running through the smoke and flames, she seized her precious baby, then turned to make her way out. But by now the smoke made it very hard to see and breathe. Nearly overcome, she swayed and fell, and would not have made it out of the house safely if a fireman had not picked her up and carried her out.
What a cheer went up as they appeared! Baby Marjorie was not hurt at all! But the poor mother’s hands were terribly burned. Kind friends took care of the baby while the ambulance took her to the hospital. The doctors did their best, but her hands were terribly scared.
Years later, when Marjorie had grown, she suddenly noticed something she had not noticed before. Her mother’s hands were so ugly! “Why are your hands so ugly?” she asked her mother when they were alone.
Tears filled her mother’s eyes as she remembered how frightened she was the day the house burned with Marjorie asleep and unaware of the danger.
“Have I said something wrong?” Marjorie asked when she saw the tears.
“No, my dear,” replied her mother. “But there’s a story I need to tell you.”
Then she told Marjorie the story of the fire. She told how the people tried to hold her back, how the fireman tried to stop her, how she battled the flames to rescue her, how she fell, and how they were rescued. Then she held out her scared hands for Marjorie to see.
“They are ugly, in a way, aren’t they,” Mother said softly. “For me, the only thing that mattered was to save your life.”
Now it was Marjorie’s turn to shed a few tears. “Oh, Mother,” she cried, “You must love me so much! These are the most beautiful hands in all the world!”
Do you know there are hands that were hurt for you? The hands of Jesus.
Soldiers drove great nails through His hands and hung Him on a cross to die so you could go to heaven. Even when He comes again, the marks made by those nails will still be there. If you ask Him, He will show them to you. When you see them, you will know for sure how much Jesus loves you!
By Arthur S. Maxwell, adapted by Karen Flowers
Adapted from Arthur S. Maxwell, Uncle Arthur’s Bedtime Stories . Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Assoc., 1966. Vol. 13, pp. 9-13.