I am quite fascinated by tattoos, even though personally I regard the whole concept of using one’s body as an ink pin cushion a little daunting.
Despite this aversion, I still find the effort, skill and artistic detail expressed through tattoos quite eye-catching. So much so that I have to be a little careful when out and about- a rare occurrence these days- that I don’t stare too much at people’s “body art”.
Afterall, it can get a little tense when Jenny and I are out together and she catches me staring at some exquisite bluebird tattoo on a young lady’s arm. Surprising as this may sound to some, no amount of explanation on my part about the nature of the tattoo seems to avert the angst directed at me.
The only thing Jenny finds worse than me staring at people’s tattoos, is when I actually ask them about their tattoos. For some reason this can get me into even more trouble with Jenny. Especially if the person happens to be female, under 40 yrs. of age, and I flash my “Richard Gere” smile. Don’t understand Jen’s reaction myself…
In my defence, I would stress that I also ask men about their tattoos.
Turns out, I have had some terrific conversations with people about their body art. By far the most memorable was with a young man, Jake, who served us while shopping at Fountain Gate. We were finalising our purchases and were at the cash register and I simply could not contain my curiosity a moment longer.
Jake had the most intricate tattoo that ran the length of his arm and that centred around a single word, which I didn’t know the meaning of. So, I asked him what it meant.
Jake explained that it was the nickname for his best friend who had passed a way a few years ago. They had been very close and had done a lot of things together. Jake was obviously shaken deeply by his friend’s death and wanted to honour his memory. Thus, the tattoo.
I was very touched by Jake’s sincere desire to remember his friend which he sought to manifest by “engraving” his friend’s name onto his own body as a constant reminder of their relationship.
As I reflect upon this exchange, I am reminded of Isaiah 49:15 &16a…
“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)
“See, I have engraved you on my hands!!”
What a wonderful metaphor of The Lord’s mindfulness of us. That even if the almost impossible occurred and a mother were to forget her child, He will never forget us, because He has tattooed our names on his hands.
MacLaren in his commentary on this passage explains, that not only are we to draw strength and peace from this “divine remembrance, more tender than-a mother’s, but that this divine remembrance guides the divine action. “
In other words, since the palm of the hand is the seat of strength and the instrument of work, and we, the church, are inscribed upon those same hands, then the divine actions of God are always underpinned by His love and remembrance of us.
This is an important truth to remember at those times when things don’t seem to make sense and seem to be barrelling out of control.
Last week I reminded you of a face book post Julia made when she reminded us of the famous chorus… “He’s got the whole world in His hands”
This week I would like us to remember that those same hands have our names tattooed upon them as a constant testimony of God’s mindfulness of us and of the relationship we have with Him.
And that this relationship was made possible because Jesus dared to open his hands on the cross and receive the nails that pinned him there for our sins. That he will forever bear the scars on his hands, his feet, his side and his brow as a constant reminder and testimony of his love for all people.
Furthermore, we are told in 1Timothy 2:4-6 that God our Saviour…
“wants not only us but everyone saved, you know, everyone to get to know what we have learned: that there’s one God and only one, and one Priest-Mediator between God and us- Jesus who offered himself in exchange for everyone held captive to sin, to set them all free.” (MSG)
This is an open-handed invitation by the God who holds the whole world in His hands, to all people everywhere to except what Jesus has done for them on the cross and be “inscribed” forever in the palms of His hands.
Let me finish with the words from a Graham Kendrick song…
“Come see His hands and His feet,
The scars that speak of sacrifice,
Hands that flung stars into space,
To cruel nails surrendered.”
May we hold this truth foremost in our minds this week as we seek to navigate these turbulent times, remembering whose hands we rest in.