Things haven't necessarily slowed down any today, but I've had this post in the drafts folder for a while and today (St. Patrick's Day) seemed like a fitting day to post it for reasons which will soon become obvious...
All of that intro out of the way here we go...
On December 18 I got a tattoo.
Much thought, prayer, and discussion went into it before I had it done with a very close circle of friends and confidants including Jenn.
I sent an email out to those close friends and family the day I had the work done, and since then have sent it out and shared it with over 100 other people who've expressed interest in the ink or wondered what the heck I was thinking.
The rest of this post is word-for-word the contents of that email I sent out on December 18, 2009.
December 18, 2008 - 11:50 AM
Samuel took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah. He named it Ebenezer — "the stone of help" — for he said, "Up to this point the Lord has helped us!" — 1 Samuel 7:12, NLT
After a long period of sadness and trouble, a consequence of Israel's disobedience, Israel repented under the leadership of a new priest and judge, Samuel. God restored their political security, and the people, for their part, re-committed their hearts and minds to their Lord.
Samuel placed a large stone at the place where this restoration began. He publicly dedicated it as a monument to God's help, God's faithfulness, God's eternal covenant. And as the people got on with their lives, the stone stood there, visible to all who passed that way, a reminder of judgment and repentance, mercy and restoration.
The Ebenezer stone represented a fresh beginning, a reversal of course for God's people. It also said something important about God: his mercies are everlasting; his covenant is forever.
Members of AA can tell you how long they have been sober. They keep alive the memory of the last drink they took, and with each new day, one day at a time, they move farther down the road of sobriety. AA is on to something important. Do they ask their members to count the number of years spent in drunken waste? No. They count the days spent walking in a new direction. All that went before is water over the dam.
Samuel was a wise man with a good idea. He recognized something that's true about human nature — we're forgetful.
At Ebenezer, Israel could stand next to that big old rock and remind themselves, "Yes, we serve a living and faithful God, whose mercies are everlasting."
Today, I am raising an ebenezer...
It will be a constant, visible, physical reminder to me of God's work in my life, especially relating to...
- the changes in my personal theology and understanding of what it means to be a "Christ Follower" over the course of this past year
- the spiritual awakening I am experiencing and how that is leading me to spiritual formation stuff
- the community of RVCC and the ministries there I am able to take part in
- the friendships I have cherished this year
- Jenn, Ellie, and Silas who love me unconditionally, even though I make it difficult
- being the lay director of boy's chrysalis #24 (the process, the weekend, the team, the flight, the memories)
- turning 30, which was a much bigger/harder deal for me than I expected
- that God's mercy is everlasting and forever
- that regardless of how insignificant I feel that He will use me, if I will just get out of His way and let Him
I have a small suspicion that this is going to hurt... so, if you think to say a prayer during that time I'd appreciate it.
A Prayer of St. Patrick
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.