I recently celebrated my birthday and discovered something remarkable. In the past, I have been blessed to have people remember my special day. Please note that I am not very materialistic, but like most Americans I have fallen into the routine of placing a heavy emphasis on other people’s acceptance of me. And, I also have to admit that I was “programmed” to view such celebrations as a sort of gauge on how much value I possess. So, if someone forgot my birthday then I felt unloved or less valuable.
But this year was different. The difference stems from a fairly recent spiritual “growth spurt.” You see, I have finally realized that my value does not come from anything I do or from how others view me. My value is found simply in that fact that I am made in God’s image. In other words, I am valuable because God loves me. I know most of you have heard this before, and so have I.
However, although my head knew this, my heart did not truly grasp the meaning or significance. There was a disconnect between the two, and every year my head ruled on this particular day. In fact, I almost dreaded my birthday because of an irrational fear that others would forget about me which meant that I was no longer of any importance. Indeed, there were years that many people, including those closest to me, would “drop the ball” and forget. And I would struggle with the emotion of rejection for months afterward.
But this year my heart took charge, and I can honestly say this was the best birthday ever. I did not dread the day nor did I keep a mental record of who forgot. In fact, I went into the day with an overwhelming sense of calm. Every aspect of my being knew without a doubt that God loves me and celebrates my existence. How absolutely mind boggling and amazing is that?
Isaiah 49:16 (NIV) states, “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.” The terminology used in this verse is closely related to tattooing. And not just writing a name, but rather a permanent portrait tattooed on His hands. This means that He can not act (open His hands) without being reminded of the one He loves. Although the historical context of this verse is describing the city of Jerusalem, the spiritual context is an expression of love for all of God’s children. Which means that this verse can be rewritten to say, “Look my precious one, I have tattooed your portrait on the palms of My hands so that ever time I do anything, I will think of you.” That knowledge is the best birthday gift I have ever received.