Have you ever spent much time examining the personalized license plates of cars you pass on the street? Or maybe you have one yourself? It’s always been a peculiar joy of mine to notice the various personalized plates and attempt to decipher just what this little bit of information tells us about the person driving.
For instance, last night as I drove home from church, I followed a car with the license plate that simply read “HEBREW.” Which struck me as a rather interesting word to place on the back of your car. With each stoplight we came to along Locust Street, I wondered… is this person, perhaps, an Old Testament biblical scholar who specializes in the Hebrew language? Does he have an affinity for Hebrew National hot dogs? Maybe his favorite bible verse comes from Hebrews 11:1— “Now faith is the assurance of things hope for, the conviction of things not seen.” As I turned on to I-74 and Mr. Hebrew kept driving, I concluded it would simply continue to remain a mystery.
These license plates have the ability to quickly convey some interesting details about the driver (or sometimes leave others scratching their heads). I’ve been impressed in this little corner of our world how people can use 7 characters to identify themselves as University of Iowa fans in so many different ways. There’s HWKEYE or HAWK-I or IM4HWKS or about 400 other variations you’ve surely seen as well.
Then there are those who tell us a bit about who might be in the car with them with license plates like: GRNDPA6 or MOMSVAN. Or still others who maybe try to make us smile us with messages like: BLSSED or HPPYDAY or, my personal favorite recently, HIOFCER.
Goofy or funny or dedicated to their favorite sports teams… these license plates are, in a way, a form of conveying who the driver is. Telling us what matters to that person, what they’re passionate about, or what they wish to convey to others. For those who choose to personalize their plates, it’s almost a way of identifying themselves by what they value, or giving themselves (or, their car) a name.
The good news is, when it comes to our lives of faith, we’ve already been given a personalized plate of sorts. Some of my favorite words of scripture come from the prophet Isaiah who shares these words from God, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.”
What a gift to have this God that knows each of us by name. Our passions, our worries, even the make & model of the car we drive. And moves closer to us day after day. It makes me think that if God were to have a license plate, it would simply say, for all to read: U-R-MINE.