I have finally figured out what tattoo I want to get.
OK, wait. Let me rephrase that: I have finally figured out what tattoo I would get if I suddenly became way cooler than I actually am. You know, that day where I cut my hair into a chin-length bob, rock dark-rimmed glasses with Converse shoes and follow at least one indie band that isn't on the radio.
But regardless of it's actuality, figuring out my choice for a lifetime relationship with a potential tattoo still feels like an important personal life decision.
If I were to sit down in a tattoo chair today I would ask for three words to be permanently etched on my right wrist: Prone to Wander.
My right wrist is usually the one that I can see when I am holding my beautiful, nearly-eight month old daughter when trying to check my work email or jot down a story idea instead of wrapping both arms around her and waiting until nap time.
My right wrist is usually the one that is free, when I'm digging in the snack bin to find some chips or grabbing a can of Coke from the fridge out of sheer laziness.
My right wrist is usually the one that is flipping through channels when I am sitting in the quiet of my home on any given night after the kids are asleep (the glorious hour I wait for all day long), instead of driving to a friend's house to connect with someone who needs to talk- no matter the hour.
'Prone to Wander' comes from a hymn that I grew up singing at The Glory Barn, (a palsy, dying congregation where everyone wore flower jumpers and forbade music with a beat): Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. But particularly, verse four pops into my head at random times throughout my week:
4. O to grace how great a debtor Daily I’m constrained to be! Let Thy goodness, like a fetter, Bind my wandering heart to Thee. Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love; Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, Seal it for Thy courts above. Daily, I am prone to wander. Daily, I need to offer my heart to God. Daily, I substitute His truth for what I want life to be. I want it to be easy. I want it to look good on the outside. I want it to look like I know what I'm doing. I want it to look like I'm the one who has it all figured out. I want to look successful. Smart. Self-suffcient. Without flaw. And life isn't any of those things. And I am not either. Jesus' truth is what I need to immerse myself in on a regular basis because it is gritty, and substantial- it fills in the holes where the constant wash of my fickle heart has eroded the foundation of my faith. His death on a cross is unplalabale. It is rejected in most accepted circles of society. It is untidy. It is unexpected. It is love like we've never seen before or since. When we are dying. When we are dead. When we are cussing. When we are sinning. When we are hating. When we are idolizing. He is love. He is the right wrist choosing to do the right thing, when we are the ones ignoring His love story and slamming the book shut for a sugar high, for a forbidden glance, for a hit of addiction, for our own glory. I podcast sermons all the time. I listen to Christian music all the time. I read the Bible even when I don't feel like it, but never as much as I should. I don't do these things because I am a Super-Christian. I do these things because I am a failing Christian. I have seen the ugliness my heart is capable of and so I need to protect myself by injecting my life with His truth. I need Jesus on overdrive. On repeat. Everyday. I don't listen to Christian radio because I like it- (Apologies, Christian radio fans, but the over production and sappy lyrics sometimes cause me to roll my eyes), it's because I forget God's goodness. I am in desperate need of being reminded of Him. I am prone to wander. I am prone to leave the God I love. This isn't to say that I never make the right choices, but let's just say that I've had my fair share of moments where I do what I want instead of what I should. So how come 2 Corinthians 5:17 doesn't ring true in my own life all the time? "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" Am I not a new creation if I fall back into my old ways? If I forget His goodness? If I'm prone to wander. Fortunately, for forgetful followers like myself who take for granted their salvation, one of God's most shining examples of a life in response to the Gospel was the prophet Paul. And even he isn't exempt from this constant relapse. In Romans 7 he says, 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
Today, my pastor Brian McCormack at Reach Church in Kirkland preached on this very thing; our forgetfulness about His goodness. He made it very clear that repetition is the key to keeping what we believe in our hearts consistent with how we live our lives. We won't get it right enough to be righteous. Sorry, moralists. We won't become Christians by osmosis. Sorry, Sunday-morning saints. We won't become more like Jesus by letting our lives remain unchaged. Sorry, fence-sitters.
We become believers by falling back into the fold when Jesus comes to find us. Repenting and returning. Remembering and responding.
We have not yet arrived, but we are on our way to finishing strong when we believe that He took the shame for our shamefulness. Even when I stray, He stays. And as long as we keep our eyes open to who we really are, we will never be at risk of being truly lost; even those who are prone to wander.