In his novel, Remembering, Wendell Berry tells the story of Andy Catlett, a Kentucky farmer who learned he needed some help.

He and other farmers helped a younger farmer bring in a corn harvest. Catlett operated a corn harvesting machine. The machine jammed. Andy tried to clear it, but his right hand caught in the gears. He looked at his arm. His hand was gone.

His wife scolded, “what did you do to yourself?” His shame answered. “I’ve ruined my hand.” Andy felt “defective” and withdrew into isolation.

Another farmer named Danny Branch refused to let him sink even further. He forced him back into farming. “They learned to work together, the one-handed old man and the two-handed. They know as one what the next move needs to be. They are not swift, but they don’t fumble.” As Branch said, “Between us, we’ve got three hands. Everybody needs at least three. Nobody ever needed more.”

Three hands. It sounds strange, but it is a Biblical principle. We all need more than we are by ourselves.

As Solomon observed,

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9–12)

He could have written, “we all need three hands.”

Fellowship provides a magnificent blessing. It gives us three hands, someone to help us when down. And everyone needs three hands.

Who are yours?

-Robert G. Taylor-