Friday, December 9, 2011


As I have previously mentioned in my blog, I don't just get ink for something to do. Let's be honest, having needles breaking your flesh repeatedly isn't the most enjoyable activity. While some aren't too painful, I could still think of other, less painful, things to do. And in case you weren't aware, tattoos don't come cheap either. Actually, let me rephrase that, good tattoos don't come cheap. For that reason, you don't see me with any tribal designs, some popular brand or logo, or various Chinese characters (no offense if you have any of these). Granted, the aforementioned tattoos can have some sort of significance or story behind them; I even know a few individuals like that. But, for me, there wouldn't be a point to them.

Today, we will pick up with the tattoo on my right forearm. More often than not, this is the tattoo I have random people ask me about. It may have something to do with the fact that it isn't in English. Or maybe it's the fact that most of my tattoos are covered and I don't walk around shirtless. When I inform them it's Hebrew, I get two common reactions. The first is a shocking look followed by the question, "Are you Jewish?" (this one never fails to amuse me.) After they come to the realization I'm not, they usually follow it with something like, "The Hebrew language is so beautiful, isn't it?" Remember, I'm a dude! Getting some lettering because it is beautiful isn't my style. While I want my tattoos to be aesthetically pleasing, how beautiful the letters are isn't in my criteria for choosing them. All of this was to tell you that I took a while to decide on this particular phrase. A lof of time was put into researching this and making sure I got it right. This was something, I needed to be constantly reminded of.

Permanently on my forearm is the phrase 'B'tzelem Elohim.' This Hebrew phrase, used in the creation account, is deep with meaning. Essentially, it is a summation of Genesis 1:26-28 where God turns his attention to the creation of man. When translated, at it's most basic level, B'tzelem Elohim means "created in the image of God." I realize this is a pretty basic truth; however, it's the most basic things we have the tendency to gloss over. Reality is that many of us struggle with this truth on a daily basis. Our understanding of its importance is lacking. And, let's be honest, this is a truth we all forget pretty day in and day out. My thinking, then why not get the constant reminder?

This phrase came to me at just the right time in life (funny how God does that). At the time, I was really struggling with some identity issues. To a point, I was unsettled about how things had been playing out lately. To be completely honest, life wasn't how I had expected it to be at that stage in life. I had been out of ministry for over a year, which was kind of rough for me. Afterall, that's why I went to college. I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to do through most of my college career. But, this was making me question why I spent an exorbitant amount of money for that degree to just hung on my wall. Over several months, the questions began to surface. Did I totally misread God on my calling? Who am I without ministry? What am I really doing with my life?  Am I making a difference at all? Am I a disappointment to those around me?

Every time I look at this tattoo, I am reminded that none of that matters. What is truly important is the fact that I am created in the image of God. Not just any god, but the God. And my identity is solely defined by that reality. Nothing else! A glance at this tattoo eases the need I sometimes have to perform. It reminds me to take my focus off trying to please others and live in the reality that the only one worth pleasing is the one in whose likeness I have been created. And the funny thing is, because of this amazing thing called grace, that will never long as I'm pursuing my creator.

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