The other day I was visiting a guy in jail (not an angel, in case you’re thinking that’s where I’m headed). I asked him about his tattoos, and he showed me several crosses and some other symbols I didn’t quite get. Then he showed me the top of the tattoo on his chest. From the looks of it, it was a huge angel printed across his body. Not a little angel. A big one. Feathers and all.
He said, “I just felt like I needed an angel to cover me.”
Then he told me this story of how he ended up in jail … this time. It sounds as if it involved a woman. He was in a bad situation, he said, and it got worse. Then it got dangerous and from the way he told it without really telling it (we were having this conversation in the jailhouse, remember …), it sounds like the situation could have really messed up his life.
But then … his words … God showed up. With blue lights on top of his car, evidently. Just when things were going south, the cops drove up and arrested him. To him, that moment was all God, all mercy. It was God changing the course of his life when he didn’t have the courage to do it himself. It was angels covering him, giving him another chance at life.
His story reminds me of that place in the book of Acts where Paul ends up in Athens and notices all those idols plastered around the city. It strikes him that all these people have put an incredible amount of time, energy and faith into these blobs of metal and stone that have no power. Meanwhile, they’ve completely missed the living God. Like placing faith in a tattooed image of an angel, but missing out on the chance to follow Jesus.
So now this guy is sitting in jail reading his Bible, waiting for the next step. I have to agree with him that maybe this is God’s best for him, given the circumstances. I’m really hoping with this guy that maybe he is not sitting in a jail right now, but in a spiritual incubator. I’m praying he gets a new mind and a better set of choices out of this deal. I’m praying he gets a better conscience with which to process those choices. I’m praying for his kid who he has yet to hold, and for the generation he will influence with his choices. I’m praying he will choose to follow Jesus, because it isn’t when we are practicing freedom that we are most free but when we follow Jesus.
I am praying for this young man … that real angels surround him and cover him, and that the Holy Spirit fills him and Christ consumes him.