Beautiful

On permanent ink

In the first few posts of this new site I thought I might fill you in on a few of the things that are new in the last eighteen months.

First up, a new tattoo.

I got my first tattoo when I was 20 years old, on somewhat of a broken-heart-induced whim, and much to the consternation of my friends, who were rather worried that I’d come to regret it.
Happily, I haven’t, and practically ten years to the day, I got tattoo number 2.

Tattoo number 1 was a very simple butterfly. 12 lines, no colour, and for the absolute bargain price of £10. I very much doubt that you could get even a prison tattoo for those kind of prices these days, and so the latest one was a bit pricier, and a bit more detailed. And, with ten years to ruminate on it, a wee bit more thought through.

image

It’s on my right inside-wrist, and as you can see from the picture, consists of two lilies, the word ‘Therefore…’, and a bible reference (Hosea 2:14). This is my absolute favourite verse in the bible (whether one is allowed to have favourite verses or not is of little importance to me), because of the ‘therefore’ that kicks it off.

The verse in its entirety is this:

“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her.”

Odd favourite verse? Maybe, but allow me to explain myself. The verse is part of a book called Hosea, about a prophet (called Hosea) who is commanded by God to marry a prostitute, Gomer. The reason for that odd instruction is that God wants to show his people, Israel, how they are treating him. God describes himself as a husband, and Israel as his wife, and chapter 2 of the book describes in graphic detail exactly how she has behaved: he has given her everything she could ever want or need, and she has responded by whoring herself out to other gods.
She is like a wife who takes the wedding ring her husband has given her, gives it to another man, and then becomes a prosititute, allowing the man to pay her using that very same ring. It’s a terrible story, which becomes even worse as one reads it and comes to the realisation: I am the whore.

As you reach the midway point of chapter two the mood is pretty bleak. God has made it clear exactly how his people have behaved, and verse 13 ends like this:

“…she burned offerings to them and adorned herself with her ring and jewellery, and went after her lovers and forgot me, declares the LORD.”

Verse 14 begins with a ‘Therefore…’ and you think you know what to expect.

Perhaps, ‘Therefore I will turn my back on her and have nothing more to do with her again.’

Or maybe, ‘Therefore I will grudgingly take her back, but I’ll put her in corner and make her feel bad about it for the rest of eternity.’

And yet that isn’t what we get. This is what he says.

“Therefore, behold I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her.”

Which is mental, but wonderful, obviously. But the thing that really gets me is the ‘therefore’. It’s not, ‘even though she did it I’ll take her back’ but ‘because she is a whore, I will go and woo her and win her and make her my wife again.’

That’s the kind of God he is, you see. One who loves and acts, when winning and wooing means bleeding and dying.

And not to rub our faces in it, or hold it against us, or make us feel bad. But to restore us, to make us clean and beautiful again, and to turn thorns into lilies.

That, my friends, is good news.

In summary: ink.

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