My pastor gave a powerful sermon last Memorial Day weekend called "Engraved." It was based on this verse:
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; your walls are ever before me.
The sermon was part of a series called "GODISNOWHERE," which, if you notice, can be "God is Nowhere" or "God is Now Here." It can be easy to feel the former even while knowing the latter.
After hearing this sermon, I had a ring made based on this verse. It captivated me that God has my name engraved on his hands. For me, the hand is the place I write something if I don't want to forget it because I'm always looking at my hands. Pen washes off though, and if I'm not careful, I can forget even the boldest reminder. But here, this verse says that I am engraved. God is never going to wash me off or lose sight of his plan for my life. He even has nail scars to prove it.
I am often tempted to feel forgotten by God when I hurt for so long. When my prayers for relief go unanswered, I question. When my cries on behalf of others seem to fall on deaf ears, I wonder. When I'm trapped at home in my room, I think, "God, I could be out doing so much for you!"
I was out of the house for a few moments today for the first time in about 2 weeks. As I was singing along to praise music in the car, I was thinking with a chuckle: "Why keep this voice shut in?" Now, I'm no singer, but I can't understand sometimes why God has set apart this time for me to be isolated. I have such a desire to serve God and live life fully. Has God forgotten? Has he abandoned me?
I wear my ring every day to remind me of God's promise. (It was either that or a tattoo.) It reminds me of the tight bond between God and me - tighter than that of mother and child. He never for a moment gets distracted, falls asleep, or fails to keep watch over me. By faith, I can be assured that I have been set apart by him, like Israel was, for all time. He keeps watch over the walls that protect me, and sometimes, just like with Israel, he allows those walls to be broken down.
It's been a testing point for me in my faith to think that God could keep watch over me and still allow my walls to be broken down, to allow trouble in, to allow sorrow and brokenness. But recalling what happened to Israel, I do know that God has a plan to rebuild those walls again. When God allowed Babylon to break down the defenses of the city and Jerusalem to be taken into captivity, God knew all along that the captives would return and build up those ruins once again. I think he sees the same in my life. It won't always be this way.
So back to my ring. My grandma ended up needing an ambulance and going to the hospital yesterday. Because of this, I was very tired by mid afternoon, and my ring must have slipped off my hand while I was digging in the freezer for some very old, frosted pierogies. The thing is, I didn't even notice the ring was missing when I dropped it. I wear this ring every day and night, but I was so tired and stressed out that I completely forgot about the ring. It wasn't until my mom found it late last night and brought it in to me that I realized what had happened. The irony was not lost: I had lost track of the ring that reminds me of God's promise to never lose track of me.
As a human, even with the best intentions and a heart for God, I fail. I forget. I don't measure up. But in contrast to my failings, I can be sure that God is not like that. My ring may slip off and fall into the bottom of the freezer. I may slip up and revert back into patterns of sin that I thought were behind me. But no matter what I do, God is faithful. It is in his character, and he cannot be any other way. He will pursue me with steadfast love.
Lord, thank you that I am engraved on your hands and that nothing, not even my own failings or hardships, can get in the way of your all-consuming love for me.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.