God of Remembrance
God of Remembrance
It is fascinating to see the increasing role of forensic science in solving crimes. DNA can be recovered in anything from a few skin cells to a licked postage stamp. Forensic scientists can establish an association between a suspect and the crime scene with only an eyelash or single strand of hair. It appears we leave traces of our presence where ever we go.
Interestingly enough, your hair not only tells people that you have been there, it also tells your story—or at least provides some noteworthy details to that story. Scientists have discovered that your hair can divulge significant habits and particulars of your lifestyle: what you eat, where you live, if you smoke or drink, if you are of Asian or European decent. And a single hair can keep records for months, if not years, depending on its length.
When my mother first told me as a little girl that God knew the number of hairs on my head I was thoroughly amazed and a little troubled at the thought of it. The number of hairs on my head was something I didn't know about myself; it was something no one else seemed to know about me either. This meant that someone knew something about me that my mom or my grandma didn't know. It meant that someone had the capacity—and the aspiration—to know me and all of my details.
Even as I looked at this promise quite literally, it was at once both comforting and troubling. When I brushed my hair and caused several strands to fall out was I making work for God? How often did God have to recount them? And why did God care how many hairs I had anyway? Certainly it was one detail that God could overlook.
Then sometime later I was given the rest of Jesus's words uttered that day: "Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows" (Luke 12:6-7). Strand of hair or simple sparrow, worry, fear, or dream, God does not overlook even one.
That God knows the number of hairs on our heads is still a thought at which we do well to wonder. Wrapped up tightly within such knowledge is the great and fearful truth about who we are praying to when our eyes grow heavy with sleep, who walks beside us through shadowy valleys and streams of still waters, who hears our groaning when we don't know what we mean. God knows us more specifically and more effectively than we know ourselves—a thought that reminds us that God is Father, a detail that holds both immeasurable love and great consequence. God knows not only the stories told in each strand of your hair but every detail of who you are: the desires of your heart, the worries you carry, the questions you don't know how to ask. In this perfect love our fears are cast aside and we are given not only reason to trust, but a will to obey.
According to the Natural History Museum of London, the average person has up to 150,000 hairs on his or her head. The one who knows exactly where you stand in that average, who knit you together in your mother's womb and knows each word on your tongue before it is formed, is a God of remembrance. Like the psalmist at this thought we wonder. "O Lord, what are human beings that you regard them, or mortals that you think of them? They are like a breath; their days are like a passing shadow" (144:3-4). In the echoing of that question across time the promise of Christ is also heard: "Everyone who acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God" (Luke 12:8). Not even one of them will be forgotten.
Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.