Marsha Kaitz, a psychology professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, conducted a test to investigate how well mothers know their newborn babies. According to the Associated Press, the forty six mothers chosen for the test had all given birth in the previous five to seventy-nine hours. They had all breast-fed their infant.
Each mother was then blindfolded and asked to identify which of the three sleeping babies was her own. Nearly seventy percent of the mothers correctly chose their baby. Most of the mothers said they knew their child by the texture or temperature of the infant's hand. The women apparently learned the identifying features during routine contact, said Kaitz, because they weren't allowed to study their babies to prepare for the experiment.1
If that is how well a mother knows and loves her child, how well, then, does the Lord know and love His children? "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..." (Isaiah 49:15-16 NIV). The Lord is the ultimate parent; he can pick his children out of a crowd at a hundred feet! Again, He never forgets His people, even in times of personal and corporate failure, gross and wanton infidelity. He keeps us permanently before his watchful eye; He has engraved us on the palms of his hands. The closest comparison to such a perfect and unfailing love is that between a mother and her infant child. The need of the infant is so great that only the watchful eye of the ever-caring, cautious mother is equal to the task.
But though the best of human love may fail-a mother may do the unthinkable and abandon her child-the Lord will never leave or forsake his children. Indeed, our God literally yearns for His people (Jer 31:20). Remember Jesus and the painful tears he shed over Jerusalem: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem...," Jesus cried out, "How often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings..." (Luke 13:34). Like a mother's love and affection for her children, so is the Lord's love for his children. He can't get us out of his mind! He has eyes for you alone!
Thus the most important fact about us is that God knows us and loves us. It is not that he simply knows about us-like some disinterested observer watching tourists walk by in the town square, but that he actually knows us personally and thoroughly-and still loves us. Paul straightened the Galatians out on this matter. It was more important, he argued, that God knew them than that they knew God. Part of the theological point he was driving at was that God's knowledge of us is prior to and the cause of our real knowledge of him. We know him because he fore-knew us. We would never have known him had He decided to remain incognito!
The apostle says essentially the same thing to the Corinthians: "For now we see in a mirror indirectly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know in part, then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known" (1 Cor 13:12; NET Bible). J. I. Packer penetrates to the heart of the matter:
What matters supremely, therefore, is not, in the last analysis the fact that I know God, but the larger fact that underlies-the fact that he knows me. I am graven on the palms of his hands. I am never out of his mind. All my knowledge of him depends on his sustained initiative in knowing me. I know him because he first knew me, and continues to know me. He knows me as a friend, one who loves me; and there is no moment when his eye is off me, or his attention distracted from me, and no moment, therefore, when his care falters.2
Therefore, as you come to the Lord today, drink deeply of this truth-that He knows and loves you with an undefeatable love. Let Him wrap His strong arms around everything about you and perhaps you may find yourself as startled as the youngster in Sunday School who, in reciting the Lord's Prayer, said this: "Our Father, who art in heaven, how'd you know my name?"
"Father, I praise you today, that indeed, you know my name and you love me thoroughly! That nothing about me has either escaped your notice or drives you away from me. I thank you God that you are a jealous God; you have eyes for me alone! So please teach me, today Lord, to have eyes for you alone! Assure me Lord, by your Spirit, that I am safe in you. Help me to know that not even a single sparrow falls to the ground apart from your will and that you have personally numbered all the hairs on my head (Matt 10:29-30). Draw me close all day long so that I might love, worship, and serve you in a way pleasing to your heart. I love you Jesus and I praise your holy name."