The oldest existing human that we know of is the 5,300-year-old body of a man, frozen in ice, that was uncovered by climbers in the Italian Alps in 1991. His name is Otzi the Iceman, and aside from being extremely well-preserved, he was remarkable for another reason: the 61 tattoos that adorned his body.
For as long as we’ve been on the planet, humankind has marked their bodies to commemorate important events, imply meaning, or signify value. Everything from a sailor’s inscription of a lost lover’s name, to the tribal markings of indigenous peoples denoting a ceremony or achievement, reminds us that using permanent markings can be one of the clearest ways to show what’s most meaningful to us. As it turns out, we aren’t the only ones who do this. God does, too. Listen to this powerful verse from Isaiah: “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…” (Isaiah 49:16 NIV).
That verse is part of a passage where God reminds his people that he has not forgotten them, even during an extended period of captivity. While the most important part may seem to be the fact that God has “engraved” or tattooed the name of his people on his body, it’s worth considering where that engraving occurs: his hands.
A lot has changed in the lives of human beings over the years, but we still use our hands for nearly every daily task imaginable. We look at them hundreds, maybe even thousands, of times each day. The implication here is powerful: our names are never out of God’s sight.
I want us to think about that. If your own life’s commitments were to be “written on your hands,” what would they be? Work? School? Your career? Or would they be the names of people in your life? Family members, friends, those inside or outside of your church community?
It’s often easy to lose sight of what matters amidst the hustle and bustle of our lives, but I think this verse and the principle it embodies ought to be a powerful reminder to us of two things – to “put first things first” in our lives, and remind us of our heavenly Father’s love for us. I want you to picture his hands right now, the same hands that knit galaxies together, and then picture your own name, tattooed into his skin. Powerful, isn’t it? Our God has marked us into his heart as permanently as ink sets into skin. We are always in his mind, always in his eyes, and always in his heart.
I’m Joseph Tkach, Speaking of LIFE.