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