my first tattoo

This is my first tattoo. I got it for my 18th birthday and it is located on my right foot. A couple of weeks prior to getting the tattoo I had to go in and have them draw up what I wanted. I told him I wanted the Jesus fish and some scripture. (I can't even remember now which verse I told him to use.) The tattoo date came and I didn't like what they had drawn up. The scripture made that tattoo bigger and more masculine. I told him to try a lily flower in the middle (that is my favorite flower) and when he came back, he had this. A half an hour later, it was permanently on my foot.

At the time I got this tattoo, I didn't really understand the meaning of either the Jesus fish or the flower. I got it because I wanted a tattoo and I thought this was a classy way of doing it. I honestly think that God had intended this, because I have grown to understand its meaning.

The flower in the middle is actually a lotus flower. It is also known as a sacred lotus and they normally grown in swampy, muddy areas. In Greek mythology this is a plant whose fruit creates a dreamy forgetfulness and unwillingness to depart. I think that this flower is perfect for representing my life. Out of all the nasty, ugly, dirty, muddy water comes up this beautiful flower. Something good out of something ugly. It wasn't until a couple years later that I made these connections. You see, we are all sinners, and we are all broken. We all fall short of God's glory (Romans 3:23). We need his love and grace to make us whole again. He is the one who turns us into something beautiful. (A lightbulb just turned on in my head.. check out the song Something Beautiful by my favorite band Needtobreathe!!)

The meaning of the Jesus fish has come at many different times in many different ways. The first and most basic is when I actually gave my life to Christ the second semester of my freshman year of college. The fact that I already had a Christian symbol on my foot had to have been more than a coincidence. Ephesians 1:4 says, For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. God knew his plans for me and when I would turn to him.

Another way this tattoo has gained significance for me is through ministry. I have a heart for ministering to teenage girls. Youth ministry has been a big part of my life so far and through Younglife I found another meaning. Matthew 4:18-19 says, While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he [Jesus] saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, "follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." I think this is one definition of the Jesus fish.

I bought a book called "Back to the Basics of Younglife" by John Miller at a Younglife camp (Castaway) 2 summers ago. I figured if I was going to be serious about a career in ministry, I should start reading about one. On page 53 and 54 in this book, Miller comments on Matthew 4:18-19:
Jesus told his disciples to "follow Me and I will make you fishers of men." This statement is in perfect concert with walking in wisdom. This is basic, but so very important. A fisherman must go where the fish are. I love to go after Rocky Mountain trout. I've never had one come to Trail West looking for me. Ridiculous? Of course, but some Christian efforts leave the ball in the unbelievers' court.
Jesus went to where people were. We go to where kids are. More important than going, is how you act when you get there. For example, many novice fisherman come to Colorado and scare away any fish before they even get their lines into the water. They just don't know very much about fish. Fish scare easily -- movement, even shadows, near the water can spook them. Besides that, the novice fisherman has no idea where fish are likely to be. Is the water slow, fast, choppy, deep, shallow? Where is the sun? Is it cloudy? Many novices exercise little or no wisdom toward catching fish. Is it not incumbent upon us to be skilled and wise as we go to people representing Jesus Christ? "Wise as serpents but harmless as doves."
A fisherman has a well-stocked tackle box. One of the first things he asks is, "What are they biting on?" He studies the water, trees, bushes, sky, time of day, and then decides on the bait or lure. He uses it for a time, then if the fish aren't biting, he tries something else. Even that may not work, so he resorts to still another bait.
In youth ministry, we have to understand what the kids are biting on and what scares them away. We can't expect them to come to us, we need to go to them. We need to get to know them and understand where they are going to be. Ultimately, to have a successful ministry, you need to be a good fisher of men.

My tattoo is a constant reminder of my duty as a Christian: to spread the love of Jesus Christ. And not only that, but to do it in a correct and effective way. It is also a personal reminder to me that when something is broken or going wrong, that God has a plan to get me through it. He can turn an ugly situation into a beautiful one.

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. -2 Corinthians 12: 9-10

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