Our former foreign exchange student got a tattoo the other day–fortunately not on my watch–and it got me to thinking about the meaning of inking up your skin permanently. G’s tattoo is a pretty one, as you would expect, reflecting her love of music. She tells me her mother loves it and I’m not surprised–her mother loves her!
But that reminded me of another love–that of a desperately ill young woman for her God and the tattoo she got to make sure that love always could be proclaimed.
Our pastor’s 27-year-old niece, Heather Beyer, died recently of breast cancer. She used the last two years as she fought for her life to share the good news that she had a future in heaven. As time went by, however, and her ability to talk diminished, she became concerned she would not be able to praise her Lord so effectively if she couldn’t speak. She wanted to be able to lift up her hands and continue to voice her love for God.
So, she had her praises tattooed to her wrist.
I’m blessed and amazed at such strength.
Which reminds me of another tattoo, inked onto the forearm of a writer I know. Kay Strom has a heart for third-world women and one day while interviewing some Copts in Egypt, she noticed they had a cross tattooed to their forearms. Why?
“We feel certain that severe persecution is coming to Egypt, and we are not sure we will be able to stand up to it. We have chosen to have ourselves indelibly marked as followers of Christ so that we can never renounce Him, not even in our weakest moments,” one woman explained.
Kay was struck by their courage and came home resolved to do the same. Her husband, Dan Kline, was a little nervous about her idea, but agreed to drive her to the tattoo parlor when the day came. At the last minute, he got one, too–though not on his forearm like Kay.
And it makes me, in only this one instance, itch to consider the same mark.
The Bible, however, reminds us that we, ourselves, are a tattoo in 2 Corinthians 3:2-3 when the apostle Paul remarks: ”You, yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tables of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”
I need to remember that. I may not have the courage of Heather or my writer friend, or even of my foreign exchange student. But the grace of God flows through me to the world–a tattoo of God’s love and mercy to all I meet.