I've mentioned before the symbolism behind my tattoos. The one on my left arm is an image, that to me, could be a representation of Christ. Now, I know about the whole, "Thou shalt not make images..." and that's not it. But to me, having that image on my arm reminds me that I'm not alone. A tshirt covers it if I want it covered, but sometimes I just want it out there.
Last night was bike night for me and some buddies. We ride every Thursday night, when we can. Sometimes there's only 4 or 5 of us. Sometimes 15 or 20. We've had motorcycles stretched out over a mile before, and I love it. There are two places I like to be in the pack, either right up front, leading the group, or dead center. Riding second isn't too bad, because the guy in front gets most of the bugs, but if I'm not leading, I like to be in the middle of the pack and here's why...when I'm in the middle, I've got bikes stretched out in front of me, and bikes stretched out behind me. I know I'm not alone.
There's a lot to be said for not being alone. Honestly, and I'll be first to admit this, sometimes I just need quiet and want to be alone, but not always. When we're riding, whether there's 4 bikes, or 20 bikes, we all know that if something happens to any one of us, the whole pack stops. No one is left behind. That's a funny thing about bikers. Most folks see them as rough, uncaring, lone wolves, who'd just as soon cut you as look at you, and maybe some are. (And you should see the way folks react when we roll into a restaurant, dirty from the road, all leathered up, and then I pull my jacket off...there's usually a Jesus freak T-shirt underneath it. It just blows folk's minds) But still, as rough as they may seem to be, if one of their's was in trouble, they wouldn't be left alone. When a bike is broke down on the side of the road, who usually stops? Another bike. Maybe some churches could take lessons from some bike groups. Just a thought.
Anyhow, this morning, Paul said it, and here is what "it" was: "...because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; Never will I forsake you.' So we say with confidence, 'The Lord is my helper. I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?'"
Some have called me a lone wolf simply because I don't fit the norms, and that's ok. I can't imagine how boring my calling would be if I tried to be a cookie cutter pastor, so I don't even pretend anymore. I am who I am. There have been times in my ministry when I have stood out front, all by myself, and it might have seemed as if I were alone, but hey, I've got that tattoo...oh, and this thing from Hebrews this morning. It used to scare me, and I'll be honest. I used to think that I had to have everyone's approval before I did something, but then I realized just how many times Jesus seemed to be standing alone. Yeah, it got him killed, and I guess the same could happen to me, it sure has for a lot of others.
But in the end, wherever I'm led, or whatever happens...this tattoo is permanent, and so are Paul's words this morning; "Never will I leave you." That, my friends, is all the encouragement I really need. So, don't be afraid, God has promised that God will never leave you. I know it may seem sometimes that you're alone, but God promised.