I've always been convinced that when things occur repeatedly in my life, I should pay attention. Whether it be small things, or grand events, repeated themes are usually an invitation to reflect on what I might/should be learning.
This recently happened with tags. An odd theme, to be sure, but still, the multiple recurrences of all things "tagged" demanded my focus like a redundant child begging for treats in a grocery store.
First, it was luggage tags. Simple enough. A sweet gift from my husband, purchased to help make my bags more identifiable when traveling, with my favorite decor yet to boot: leaves. Beautiful, colorful shades of autumn. I used them on a trip about two weeks after receiving them, only to feel the Spirit's nudge to give them away... so I did.
Upon my return, God showed His intentions for that brief journey with the luggage tags. It became the topic of a talk on recognizing the opportunity to show God's grace to others in tangible ways, no matter how small. That talk was given recently on a retreat weekend in which the theme was from Isaiah 43:1-2 with emphasis on God calling us by name and belonging to Him. To reinforce the theme, a "prop" of sorts was used: name tags.
Hello, my name is... tags. Everyone who served at this retreat possessed one. "Hello, my name is HIS," they said. A reminder to ourselves and those we were serving that we'd been given a new name in Christ. We are no longer the names we and others have called ourselves -- unworthy, loser, insignificant -- but as children of the Most High God, we are called "son" and "daughter" and we belong to Him. (Make sure to watch Matthew West's "Hello, My Name Is" video for a refresher on this idea!)
The weekend was fulfilling and those who served were blessed to be a blessing to others, no doubt. My husband and I returned home, exhausted and thankful. We retired quickly that evening, and awoke to the stuff of life the next day. And then it happened again: a tag. Only this time, not the good kind. Our aluminum garage door (along with our whole neighborhood, save for one home!) had been "tagged" with graffiti. What's more saddening, some of the graffiti on two of our neighbor's homes included racial slurs and hateful speech.
While our family was able to keep the incident in perspective -- the vandalism could have been worse, more extensive; no one was physically hurt; we have insurance -- we are grieving more for our neighbors for whom this act is much more personal. My husband went out with our pressure washer and worked for a time to try to undo what was physically done, but nothing can change what has been done emotionally.
So I had to ask, What's up with the tags, Lord? What are you trying to tell me? And what I came away with was this: God has given us a NEW name. No matter what people call us based on our heritage, our skin color, our accents, our attire, our preferences -- we are divinely designed and each possess a tag that is irreplaceable. Not Made in the USA. Not One size fits all. Simply this: Created in the image of God.
The same God made each of us. For this, we wear the same "tag." This is not meant to blur our distinctives; even though we're made in His image, we're very different in innumerable ways. And that diversity is beautiful. But in One set of eyes, we are equal. The ground becomes even at the foot of the Cross; Jesus levels the playing field. "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for [we] are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal 3:28-29). No more labels. No more name-calling. Just His.
I thought about why I loved my luggage tags so much; they were attractive and carried my favorite emblem. In the end, though, they were about ownership and being known. I owned the luggage to which they were attached. I was known by the information they contained. God's tag on me says I belong to Him, I am known as His.
So despite our vandal's best efforts, they may have tagged my garage, and my neighbor's property, but they'll never tag my spirit. My neighbors belong to the Lord; I belong to the Lord. You do too. (You just might not know that yet.)
Wanna talk about it? Tag... you're it! #nomorelabels #ChildoftheOneTrueKing
Jesus follower. Wife. Mom. Daughter. Friend. Pastor. Learner.