I've always been in awe of people who have the guts to get a tattoo. It's not their physical bravery or social courage that impresses me so much as the permanence of their decision. Maybe at the time you really like Mickey Mouse, but what if you outgrow your Disney phase in a few years? Or what if things don't work out with Billy or Johnny?
I think it's this idea of permanence that makes Isaiah 49:16 so appealing: "See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands."
Did you catch that? God has a tattoo. And it has your name on it. With full knowledge of what he was getting himself into, God made a decision to love us. That decision wasn't a temporary commitment—his love won't stop if someone better comes along. And it wasn't a conditional commitment—his love isn't based on what we can contribute to the relationship. It's a forever promise, a "not even death can part us" promise.
In our human relationships, we long for tangible reminders that we're loved. We want people to remember our birthday, send us flowers for no particular reason, tell us what they appreciate about us, hug us.
Yesterday I ate dinner with some friends who have a four-year-old son, Zach. He seized the first lull in the conversation to tug on my sleeve and say, "I have a secret to tell you." Then he "whispered" into my ear, loud enough for the whole table to hear, "I love you!" Five minutes later, another tug, another whisper. This time: "I love you very much!" Throughout the evening, Zach's eyes lit up every time he thought of another way to express his love.1