“16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;” Isaiah 49:16
The other night, I witnessed piercing agony in a godly mother’s eyes as she told me about the health challenges that her young daughter is facing. Deeply touched by this dear woman’s story I realized that her biggest concern was, not the scary possibilities of her daughter’s condition, but the fact that her child “is not in a good place with the Lord” right now. However, though the pain was evident, this mother reminded me that the Lord will work out good from bad and that God is showing her and her confused daughter the reality of His presence in mighty ways.
I walked away from this encounter with an assurance that God is calling this young woman. In His mysterious ways, the Maker of the Heavens and Earth is using this difficult situation to summon her back into His presence. Just as He does with all whom He calls His own, He is seeking her, for once we truly belong to Him, He never lets go. He can’t let go because He has us engraved on the palm of His hands. The Creator of the universe has “indelibly imprinted (tattooed a picture of)” us on His hands, both of them! (Isaiah 49:16 – Amplified Version) We are on His hands, a place of quick access, a glance away, never far, always within sight, and permanently imprinted, as if by hot iron, never to be forgotten.
Because of this truth, He will call us when we lose our way. He has no choice. We belong to Him, just like He told us at the end of Isaiah 43:1, “I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” He cannot let go of us more than He could let go of His own hands. This is what Jesus explains through his precious parables regarding those who, though part of His flock, one day step out of the path and wander away. The Good Shepherd leaves the 99 behind to go searching for the one who lost his way. He does not tire and does not stop until He finds him; and once He does, He celebrates!
11 “‘For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. 12 As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness.” Ezekiel 34:11-12
He searches for us and He calls us, especially when we have lost our way. He searches and He calls and He rescues us from the dark places where we’ve been. He gathers us together again, after we’ve been scattered. He calls us in many ways; and it often depends on how far we’ve wandered off. Sometimes, when we’ve only stepped out of the path for an instant, distracted by the busyness and stress of our routines; we hear the gentle whisper of His calling in the midst of our daily lives. Sometimes He uses the voices of those who surround us, or whatever other means available which He knows would catch our attention. Other times, when we have allowed the world to entrap us in its web of deceit, the Lord has to raise His voice so we can hear Him amidst all the other voices that call out our names. Raising His voice might involve the need for Him to put us in a situation in which He has our undivided attention, like that young Jewish son who, after squandering his inheritance, ended up among the pigs. Sometimes we too, after immersing ourselves in the ways of the world for too long, end up tending the pigs. We might end up tending the pigs in a jail cell out of state, or in an empty house, or in a shelter, or in the streets, or in a lonely bed at a hospital far from home. However, our stay with the “pigs” last only for as long as it takes us to recognize Our Father calling out our name. The despair ends as soon as we hear His voice.
He does, then, whatever it takes in order to draw us back to Him, for the reality is that once we belong to Him, we are never farther away than the length of His arm. It might seem as if we are light years away from Him, but only from our limited perspectives. From where He stands, He has only to look at the palm of His hands to see our faces. And once He sees us, He runs to us, puts a ring in our finger, gives us His robe and orders a big celebration for all to rejoice in our homecoming.
Of course, I will lift up my friend’s daughter in prayer for quick healing and recovery. However, I know that the Lord has a plan. She belongs to Him; and He is calling out her name. Don’t look now, but He might be calling out yours too.