I am blessed to have awesome siblings by blood and by marriage. Being the rebel who moved south 20 years ago, I missed out on the laborious tasks they all undertook as our mom transitioned from Pennsylvania to Maine, back to PA, then back to Maine, to now residing in a beautiful care facility on an oceanic waterway. Going through the final remainder of her household items in storage, they designated a large plastic tote for each of the siblings to sort out any personal items that would not be donated. A number of months later, on a trip to Pennsylvania, I was able to pick it up.
Sifting through the tote labeled "Jon & Pam" was an unexpectedly emotional experience. While it was easy to acknowledge grief over the rapid decline of my mother's health, there was something else. A happy-yet-melancholic feeling that I couldn't quite put my finger on.
Reaching deep into the bin, I shook my head in disbelief as I discovered my high school counselor's college recommendation, middle school photos, and elementary school report cards. I also uncovered my first and second-grade class pictures and a progress note from my kindergarten teacher. What most stirred me, however, was the discovery of my baby bracelet. Hand-writing on the 53-year-old tiny plastic band indicated my mom's name, the doctor who delivered me, and the exact time of my birth.
Eager to share my cache, I immediately snapped a few pics and texted them to my adult daughters. More than once over the years when my children stumbled upon their baby pictures, they would ask me about mine. My usual answer of "I don't know" revolved around the assumption that these mementos were most understandably lost in the shuffle of all that happens in the life of a large family over 50 years.
Sorting through these keepsakes, it was hard to comprehend the fact that amidst the busyness of marriage, raising six kids, housework, outside employment, and church responsibilities, my mom chose to hold on to these items. The message contained in this large grey tote was, "These things were important to me because you were important to me."
And that is when it hit me. I felt loved. That was the unidentified emotion I was experiencing. As I explored the gift of that Rubbermaid plastic treasure chest, I felt oddly solaced by God: comforted though not particularly cognizant of needing consolation in the first place. As I loaded the tote in my car, my heart, full of gratitude, overflowed in a simple prayer of, "You didn't have to do that, but I'm so glad You did."
The drive back to Tennessee was quietly reflective. As silly and perhaps overly dramatic as it sounds, that tote was a divinely lavish, haptic affirmation: "Even as dementia and diabetes continue to ruthlessly and relentlessly erode the breadth of your mom's acuity, you are not forgotten."
As these emotions percolated, a Scripture bubbled to the surface. It was a question posed by God to a people who had mistakenly thought they had been forgotten. “Is it possible for a mother, however disappointed, however hurt, to forget her nursing child? Can she feel nothing for the baby she carried and birthed? Even if she could, I, God, will never forget you. Look here. I have made you a part of Me, written you on the palms of My hands…” (Isaiah 49:13-15a VOICE).
May I pass those words of reassurance on to you, today? God, the Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Omniscient One, says to you, right in the middle of your circumstances, "I, God, will never forget you. Look here..." Jeremiah expands our understanding of the breadth of God's heart and mind toward us further saying, “‘For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,’ says the LORD, ‘plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster to give you a future and a hope” (29:11 AMP). And when the Psalmist tries to comprehend the thoughts that God has for you, he exclaims, “How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I could count them, they would outnumber the sand...” (139:17-18 AMP). Oh precious one, God thinks a lot of you and God thinks a lot about you!
"I've inscribed you, on My palms, child
I've inscribed your name, right here.
You are not forsaken, I've not forgotten you.
You are ever before Me, I know what you're going through.
I am your Provider, I will restore your joy.
I am your Defender, I will redeem you for My glory.
For I've inscribed you on My palm's child.
I've inscribed your name, right here."
(Inscribed, by Jonathan C Dow based on Isaiah 49:14-25)
Rest in that blessed assurance and allow God's Truth to displace any lies, any confusion, any fear, or any doubt that have arisen from your current journey! Hear the heart of the divine Parent saying to you this very moment, "I'd never forget you - never" (Isaiah 49:15 MSG). Amen.
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