God's Tattoo

Bible Reading: Isaiah 48:16-22; 49; 50

I feel like a failure. I've poured my heart into many things, but my efforts seem fleeting. My heart is left feeling drained, battered and useless. Does my life hold any real significance or purpose? Why am I here?

This has been the nagging thought on my heart lately. Then I opened my Bible and read these words about me: "Before I was born the Lord called me; ...He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver. He said to me, 'You are my servant, [Diantha], in whom I will display my splendor.' But I said, 'I have labored to no purpose; I have spent my strength in vain and for nothing. Yet what is due me is in the Lord's hand, and my reward is with my God'" (49:1-4).

God has a special purpose planned for each of us. We are specially crafted arrows in God's hand, designed to display his splendor, sheltered in his hand, polished to reflect his light, and sharpened to deliver his purpose. How, where and when God chooses to deliver his purpose is solely in his hands. The archer doesn't need to consult or advise his arrows about the direction of his aim! God is the one who holds in his grasp the impact of our words, our deeds, our love, and our very existence; he pulls them out of his quiver when he decides it's the right time and shoots them into the hearts of others to accomplish his own purpose in his own time. Our reward is not in knowing how he chose to use us, but in simply being in his hand!

God shoots his living words into my heart at just the right time, too! Seeing life only from my perspective leaves me feeling empty and discontent. But when I let God infuse his words into my heart, he broadens my perspective and gives me peace. I don't have to know what my purpose is; I just have to do what God tells me to do and trust him with the results. He alone gives significance to my existence and meaning to my words. He will give me an "instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught" (50:4). "Because the Lord God helps me, I will not be dismayed; therefore, I have set my face like flint to do his will, and I know that I will triumph" (50:7 LB).

Though I'm determined to do God's will, when what God knows is best for me differs from what I think is best, his will is sometimes hard to accept and understand. He will teach me what is best for me and direct me in the way I should go (48:17-18). When my path is dark and I long for brighter circumstances, I'm tempted to grab for what I want, outside of God's will and timing. But if I light my own torch with my human wisdom and desires, it will only lead me to a place of pain. "Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God. But instead, some of you want to light your own fires and make your own light. So, go, walk in the light of your fires, and trust your own light to guide you. But this is what you will receive from me: You will lie down in a place of pain" (50:10-11 NIV/NCV). If I rely on God to lead me through the dark, upholding his word as the lamp that lights my way, he will instruct my heart and illuminate my feet, one step at a time (Ps. 119:105).

As I walk the long dark path, I sometimes lose sight of God's presence and cry out, "The Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me" (49:14). God hears and answers, "Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands" (49:13-16). God can no more forget me than I could forget my own children! He tattooed me onto his palm so I would always be in his thoughts and my soul would forever be in his hands. When his purposes are hidden in darkness, I will rest in his hands and rely on him. Therein lies my significance and reward.