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Did you ever write something important on the palm of your hand—something you didn’t want to forget and needed to be sure you would remember? I have seen many a fellow pen the name and number of a girl he just met onto his hand to remind him to call her. Others have written times and locations of important appointments, so they would see the note on their open palms and remember to head that direction when they needed to. I have even printed short grocery lists or locker combinations on my hands, when paper was not available and I couldn’t afford to forget.
Did you know God talks about doing something similar regarding the people He values the most? In Isaiah 49:14, we read, “But Zion said, ‘The LORD has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me.’” Look at YHWH’s reply in verses 15-16: “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…” (NIV).
I looked up that word translated “engraved” in this passage. The Hebrew term is chaqaq [pronounced “khaw-kak”], which means “to cut in, inscribe or carve.” Those Bible versions that translate the word as “written” don’t begin to give us the sense of what it really means. When you write something with a pen or pencil, it will eventually rub off. God wanted to convey something more long-lasting and permanent. He didn’t just write Zion’s name on His hand; He carved it in, so the image would last forever and would always remind Him to look after His beloved city and its inhabitants.
It’s not just the Holy City that God wants to remember. Psalm 9:12 tells us, “He does not forget the cry of the humble” (NKJV). Hebrews 6:10 says He remembers the good works and the love we show Him, when we care for other believers. We have to be pretty important to God for Him to desire to keep us constantly in mind!
How would your life be different, if you let this truth sink deeply into your heart? Would you feel as lonely, depressed or discouraged, if you realized God was constantly watching over you and caring for you like a precious treasure? If everyone understood this, think what it would do for the rates of suicide, domestic violence and teen pregnancy! These would become non-issues, if people could just grasp the scope of their importance.
I recently watched the movie, The Longest Ride, which is based on a novel of the same title, written by Nicolas Sparks. In this touching tale, two young people rescue an old man from the burning wreckage of his car just before it blows up. The young woman manages to snatch a box of cherished love letters from the front seat, as well. Those letters were precious to the elderly man, as they chronicled his relationship with his beloved bride. Hearing each carefully inscribed note not only keeps the gentleman from giving up on life, but they bless the girl who reads them aloud to him while he recuperates from his injuries.
We have our own collection of love letters bound together in a book, called the Holy Bible. It chronicles the centuries-long love affair between our Creator and His people. Its pages tell of love extended and rebuffed, of heartbreak and triumphs, of a romance that would not die—despite unspeakable pain, trials and disappointments. It even tells of the ultimate sacrifice made by the Lover of our souls, who died on a crude wooden cross to right the wrongs that His beloved had done to Him and to others.
Have you read that book lately? Have you pored through its pages, like Sparks’ characters read through the letters in the old man’s box? Have you let God’s love wash over you like a cleansing stream? Or held it to your heart, like a prized possession?
This past Sunday, I heard a beautiful illustration from a precious woman of God. Laura Whitmore was preaching the Chapel service at First United Methodist Church in Colorado Springs. Near the end of her sermon, she said something like this:
Suppose I went and sold my house and everything I had to buy you the perfect gift. And then I wrapped it in beautiful paper and picked out a bow in your favorite color—something I knew would be a delight to you. Then what if you unwrapped it and exclaimed about the paper and the bow, how they were “just perfect,” and then walked away without ever opening the box and accepting the real gift I intended for you?
That’s what we do with Jesus. We get all excited about the wrappings—the things we receive from God that make our lives pleasurable. But we miss out on the real gift, which is an intimate relationship with the Lord Himself.
Do you feel like God has abandoned or forgotten you? Maybe it’s because you have failed to invest the time in your relationship with Him. You are so busy pursuing other things, you have wandered away from the Lover of your soul. You have quit reading His love letters to you, and have forgotten how precious you are to His heart.
YHWH has neither forsaken nor forgotten you. Even though others may do so, He can and will not. Take heart, dearly beloved, for you are inscribed permanently on the palm of His hand!
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