Image by Lisa Johnson from Pixabay

Have you ever been tempted to carve initials or names in the trunk of a tree?

Perhaps linking yours with those of someone you love, like “M + F” or “Josh loves Amanda”? The inscriptions could last for centuries, emblems immortalizing your love for generations to come.

(Of course, as a nature lover, I’d rather people not make carvings in the bark of a living tree. But I can understand the impulse to do so.)

In fact, people have been engraving things on tree trunks for millennia.

Birch trees are a natural choice due to their white bark. The smooth silver-grey bark of beech trees is also a magnet for trunk-carvers. Indo-European peoples have used it for writing-related purposes since antiquity. In some modern European languages, the words for “book” and “beech” are either very close or identical. No wonder the beech has been called the “patron tree” (sort of like a patron saint) of writers.

Did you know that God sometimes inscribes things in usual places, too?

Isaiah 49:13-16 tells us about God’s steadfast and enduring love for His people Israel and their city Jerusalem.

“For the Lord has comforted his people
and will have compassion on them in their suffering.
Yet Jerusalem says, ‘The Lord has deserted us;
the Lord has forgotten us.’
‘Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child?
Can she feel no love for the child she has borne?
But even if that were possible,
I would not forget you!’ ”

God wanted to get across to His people how much He loved them, so He drew a word picture of writing their name in the flesh of his palms. Verse 16 says:

“ ‘See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.’ ”

And Jesus did no less for those who would believe in Him.

After Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, some of the disciples had seen their risen Lord, and rushed to tell the others. But Thomas doubted.

Image by Treharris from Pixabay

“So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord!’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.’
“A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’
“Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’
“Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ ” (John 20:25-28)

This passage indicates that even in Jesus’ resurrected, perfected body, the scars from His crucifixion were still evident. Thomas was able to see and touch the nail prints in His hands.

Isn’t it interesting that for all eternity the only imperfections in Jesus’ glorified body will be the evidence of His great love for us? This love He expressed at the Cross has been immortalized visibly in the form of the scars He still bears.

Jesus’ love for you is inscribed in the palms of His hands. He may as well have carved your initials there.

Is there any greater emblem of love than that?

© 2021 Lori J. Cartmell. All rights reserved.

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