I’ve never had a tattoo – but I’ve always been fascinated at the idea of engraving one onto my skin in a place where very few people would ever see it. Why a hidden place you might ask? Well, I don’t really want to invite question or comment or even judgment. I just want to know that it’s there for myself, for my own benefit. I don’t need it to signify anything in particular or to need it to identify myself with anyone/anything. It wouldn’t be a “statement” that aligns me with any kind of ideology or latest fad. In fact, I’m not quite sure even why I would want a tattoo other than the fact that it intrigues me!
So it’s no surprise that there is a passage of scripture that has got me thinking:
“See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands” (Isaiah 49:16).
In essence, God has “tattooed” us on to the palm of his hand – right out in the open for everyone to see – not hidden – not merely for his own benefit. Unashamed – unreserved – boldly courageous – this Father in Heaven wants everyone to see that we belong to Him. As I sit here pondering this, I can’t for the life of me understand why He would want everyone to see ME there ??? Me with all my hang-ups, anxieties, brokenness. It just doesn’t make sense. Why not showcase other people who are doing a better job at their life than I am? Those people would be much better “calling cards”. But no – He sees me very differently from how I see myself. The simple fact that he calls each one of us a “masterpiece/handiwork/work of art” (Eph 2:10) is a testimony to how we have been specially created by Him for the purpose of doing good works. Each one of us is a part of his plan and as such are part of the tapestry that creates a beautiful work of art. And so it is: my name is tattooed on his hand.
But wait – He hasn’t just tattooed our name, he has tattooed “us”. So what’s the difference? Well – I could quite easily tattoo the names of my children on my arms as a way of identifying them as incredibly important people in my life. But it would just be their names – it wouldn’t indicate anything about who they are, or their character, or their uniqueness, or their strengths, or their struggles in life, nor even the type of relationship they have with me. Just a name. However, scripture states that “You” have been engraved on his hand – not just your name, but everything about you: your circumstances, your needs and wants, your weaknesses and your sins, your person and your temptations. .
As if that wasn’t proof enough that God loves me, and ALL of me, but I’ve come to find out that tattoos are generally more painful in less padded areas of the body – in other words, where the skin is most sensitive. The palm of the hand has almost no fat padding and is one of the more sensitive areas of the body. This means that a palm tattoo is one of the most painful tattoos you can get! Imagine that! Our God not only chose to indelibly mark us on his body, but he chose to do it on a place where He would experience the most pain. Wow! He loves us SO MUCH, that He chose to take the pain and suffer to have us etched into his hand rather taking the lesser pain to mark us in a place where few will see. Sound familiar? It should. After all, God’s story is one of ultimate sacrifice and pain as He hung on the cross and then conquered death so that we could all live eternally in His presence. Open sacrifice, ultimately the cross, but even in the engraving of us on the palms of His hand – for all the world to see.
And I’m left in awe. In awe of this Heavenly Father who is SO unconditionally in love with us to the point of tattooing everything about us into his hand.