Friday, 20 April 2012

Tattoo

In response to my post about favourite songs the other day, Julie drew my attention to this beautiful song I’d never heard before, Come thou fount of every blessing.  I love it.

What spoke to me most vividly from the song is this verse:

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love; here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.

Indeed and Amen.

I have a tattoo on my arm (I wrote about it here a year ago).  I had it done in the darkest and most difficult time of my life.  It has the opening words from St Patrick’s Breastplate, “I bind unto myself today the strong name of the Trinity,” written around a simple image of a cross within a circle, which represents the cross that stands while the earth revolves and is also the ancient Celtic glyph for the Sacred Earth.




The tattoo – I had it done on St Patrick’s day – was meant to be a luggage label ("Please look after this bear").  If I could have had it tattooed deeper in than my body, going right through to my innermost soul, I would have done.  They always tell you not to have tattoos in case you regret it later, because they are so hard to remove; but the whole point for me was exactly that – that it could not be removed, whatever my regrets and vacillations, whatever my doubts and unfaithfulness – I am the property of Jesus Christ, and I wish to be returned to Him.  I’m His baggage!

Sheep have ink marks on their fleece to show which shepherd owns them.  A monk I worked with at one time had his flock all marked with a big red J – no, not for Jesus, for Jonathan, which was his name.   My tattoo is the ink mark on my fleece, to make it clear whose sheep I am.

I have trouble with any idea of salvation resting upon my own fidelity.  That verse in the gospels where Jesus says those who stand firm to the end shall be saved, just makes me think “Drat!  Bummer!” 

I can’t even stand firm to the end of a diet, I think the chances of my 'faith' withstanding threats of torture and burning alive would be very slender.

I know that in the course of life I might lose my mind, lose my uncertain faith, become senile and wandering and vague.  I might forget who I am and where I live and who the Prime Minister is.  I might drift out of touch with the church and forget the words of the Bible.  Without even waiting for that, I let my Lord down – I am inconsistent and unfaithful and a dodgy witness. 

But my tattoo expresses what I am hoping, that even in spite of who I am the Lord Jesus will say “this one is mine” and take me home to his side.  I don’t want to do anything in particular there.   I like a good hymn, but I don’t want a crown or anything like that.  I certainly don’t want to stand in a large crowd stuck in some interminable act of corporate worship.  I just want to be near Him.  Near enough to be able to see His toenails, and the fastening of His sandals, and the stitching in the hem of His robe, and to be able to hold that hem between my fingers to make sure He can’t get away if I fall asleep.  I would like to trust and believe that this will be so, but at the moment I am just hoping.  And that’s why I had the tattoo.


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365 366 Day 112 – Saturday April 21st    



“For everyone”; except me.  Jolly good book.  Never used it.   

13 comments:

Buzzfloyd said...

Well, I think there is a hopeful precedent. Jesus' friends included Peter, Thomas and even Judas. And he found and chose all of them.

We sing 'Come thou fount' at Pett sometimes. It's a good 'un.

Ember said...

:0)

Heather said...

Your vision of being with Jesus is wonderful! I hope it's like that and perhaps I'll meet you there. As to having to endure acts of corporate worship, an old friend once said to me, when I expressed similar dread. 'It's a place of many rooms, so perhaps He'll put you well down the corridor from them'. I hope so!

maria said...

Tears are pooling in my eyes my friend, as I read your words.

How would they know you are HIS? when everything is gone...they'll be able to see that you always belonged to HIM.

Excellent post my friend...just excellent!

m.

Ember said...

:0) Ah, you are good friends xx

Anonymous said...

My daughter chose this hymn for her wedding last October. I hadn't heard of it before either. The first time I read it through, the words reduced me to tears, so you can imagine how emotional I was at the wedding. Such beautiful, beautiful words. The wedding was attended by lots of family (mostly non-Christians) and lots of Christian friends. So many of the non-Christians were touched by the music choices and told us so. As my daughter, her new husband, my husband and I wished, the most memorable part of the day to most of the people was the actual service and worship. Just what we had prayed for.
Kay

Ember said...

:0) So glad that happy day held memories of such meaning xxx

Trish said...

"Prone to wander".. that's me, far too often.
A silly soul who goes nibbling along the cliff edge without knowing how far she's strayed from the Path.
"All we like sheep have gone astray."
Thank God, He has a good strong crook to haul us back!
I understand your tatoo story.
After 3 failed attempts to "end" his deepest depression, my son got a large christian fish symbol with LIFE written inside it tatooed on his chest.
He said that when he was having a bad day, seeing it in the mirror re-grounded him and gave him hope.
To me, it's a prohetic picture of all of us who have chosen Christ.

Marked..for LIFE!

blessings..Trish

Ember said...

Ah yes - I can relate to that story of your son. I recall a counselling session with a woman who made me say over and over "I choose life" - though never with enough conviction to satisfy her!!
God bless him that he made the choice to walk the way with courage. In our family is a lot of "depression" - which is to say, where it gets clinically diagnosed that's what it comes out as, and some of us find it a hard choice to go on living.
We have found that if we are allowed to be who we really are and find a way we can cope with, then we don't get ill.
I have wondered sometimes if the problem isn't our mental health so much as the mental illness called "money", and all the mammon-structures that act simultaneously to exclude and trap.
May God bless and protect your son, and make the path for his feet to walk and the resting places for his soul to be refreshed. May he find what he needs in this world to make the journey with peace and good hope in his heart. x

Anonymous said...

Ember you have the courage to be sincere, open and honest.
regards wimmera

Ember said...

:0) x

Trish said...

Sister Pen, I so appreciate your precious prayer for my son - thank you!
Holding you and yours in the Light today..
love and blessings..Trish

Ember said...

:0) x