I have been using this wonderful devotional for the past few months, and it has really blessed me. In this crazy busy family, I had found myself jumping out of bed to deal with others' needs, and not stopping before noon to even realize that I hadn't had any time with the Lord yet...except maybe a muttered prayer for patience when dealing with a not so perfect mommy moment! ;) So finding and using the First5 app has been a huge blessing. My phone beeps in the morning, and I grab for my sweet and short devotional to start my day with Him. Yes, I have missed a few here and there, but it has gotten me back into starting most of my mornings in the Word.
Recently, one of the devotionals really struck a chord with me. The verse that leapt from my screen wasn't even the main focus of the lesson that morning, but my heart just smiled when I read it:
Isaiah 49:16 "See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hand..."
Now I am not one to comment on the devotional very often. I sometimes read through the comments, like a couple that stick out to me, and occasionally leave a comment. But when I read this version the other day, even though I had read it many times in the past, I knew I wanted to share how I felt when I saw these words. Here is what I wrote:
"I know it's probably not what jumps out at most people, and it isn't very 'PC' to say, but I absolutely love that the Lord of all creation is 'tatted up' with the names of his children! For anyone who has had tattoos, you know that is not a pleasant experience -in fact, when the conversation comes up most times I'll tell people I have 6 children but I only have one tattoo...that pain is still fresh in my mind! But I have thought occasionally of getting another tattoo that would honor my children. Both my sister and brother in law have tattoos with their children's names. My nieces and nephew all love to touch their names KNOWING that they belong to their parents. What a beautiful picture knowing that my Father loves me so much to have my name engraved in the palm of his hand - one of the most tender parts of our body - the same place where he was pierced for our transgressions. How great is the Father's love for us that we may be called children of God!"
No, I didn't mean to set off a firestorm...but indeed that is what happened! I'm not really sure why people were offended by my comment. Yes I understand Levitical law, and I know that there are people out there that would like to see all Christians abide by every jot and tittle of the Old Testament. Some of the comments were snarky, rude and just plain old self righteous. I love every part of the Bible and it speaks to me because it's my Father's word. But the sole purpose of the law and the keeping of it was to remind us that no one is perfect - it was and is impossible for anyone to keep the whole law - and we are all in desperate need of a savior. For people to take such a stance and judge others for tattoos is not showing God's love. Some of the comments were spouting scripture at me, telling me how wrong tattoos and defiling the body were. Others said things like, isn't it funny how people can twist God's Word to defend their bad choices... and so on and so forth.
Working at Freeway Ministries has been an amazing life changing event for me. I wouldn't have ever said that I was better than anyone. But I will admit there would have been some people that are now in my life that I love and respect that I would have been cautious to get to know had Freeway not been the avenue in which I met them. God has used this ministry to show me the outer skin is not what He looks at. I'm so thankful to watch my children have relationships with people they never would have been in contact with if it wasn't for the love of God and this ministry that He's blessing. I think the verse in Isaiah struck such a chord with me because it speaks to those who may still be seeing the Lord as a far-off God who may not care intimately about them. But this verse proves otherwise. He loves us, each and everyone of us. I could have responded with anger or my own snarky comments, but I chose to respond like this:
"Thank you everyone who participated in this conversation. I by no means meant to start a conflict in the group. When I used the word PC, I was referring to my use of the term 'tatted up'. An engraving is a cut - whether or not it's considered a tattoo until it is filled with ink is another discussion for another time. I consider myself a student of the Word, and I am familiar with Levitical law. There are many pastors and teachers whom I know and respect who have a very different stance on this subject, as well as many other scriptures - not to mention translation notes and denominational differences. It doesn't change my opinion of any of them, and I enjoy a healthy, educated exchange of ideas with several of them on a regular basis...and yes, there are those people who will try and distort God's Word to satisfy their own personal agendas, but I don't believe that was the case in any of these comments - including my own. My comments were simply expressing my own personal observation of just another example of the Father's sacrificial love for us. I work in a ministry for people who are at their lowest of lows: homeless, drug addicted, single parents just trying to make a way for their children. Many of them wouldn't fit into a typical church setting. Many of them have even said they wouldn't step foot into a church for fear of being judged. Praise God for His forgiveness, for differences, for looking at the inner man and not the outer, and the beauty of all his children. God bless all of you, I am thankful for this group!"
There were a couple more comments after I posted that, all encouraging. I just hope people remember whether you are in person, in a small group, or in front of a computer screen, your words have impact. Whether you're judging someone impersonally or directly, it matters. Love first.