One of my all time favorite books is the Mark of the Lion series by Francine Rivers. I have read the series 2 times through and am seriously considering reading it again. These books not only are a personal favorite of mine, but were the catalyst of me falling madly in Love with Jesus. I recommend this book to every single person out there. It will change your life. It changed mine.
A little back ground. The book takes place during the height of the Roman empire, when Christians were highly persecuted and killed daily. Hadassah, a Christian girl sold into slavery, finds herself in the middle of Rome, serving a very wealthy and powerful family. The book is an incredible story of Hadassah's journey as she trusts in God in the middle of a hell on earth for Christians, at the time.
After each time I have read the series, I always am empowered and inspired to be a Hadassah, to be strong enough to stand up, live for and glorify the Lord's name in terrifying situations. To see God achieve the possible through the impossible. To leave his mark. Ah! Gives me chills just thinking about it!
God created us and placed this incredible desire in us. We were made to glorify him, to praise and worship our creator, to stand up to the evil of the world and proclaim good. We were made to be lights among darkness.
My favorite part of this whole book is a very small part. Through out the book, Hadassah struggles with a lack of community. The family assumes Hadassah is Jewish, therefore allows her to practice her religion in any way she may want. They have no idea she is a Christian. If they, or any other roman for that matter knew, it could mean instant death. Hadassah is sent on an errand to the market to pick up some things for her master. As she is walking, Hadassah comes to a booth and immediately sees an Ichthus (fish) engraved on the front edge of the table.
The story of the Ichthus has always been a favorite of mine. Back in the time of the persecution of christians, the Ichthus (christian fish) was a symbol adopted by christians to communicate their common belief. One would draw one half of the fish in the sand, and if the other was a Christian they would understand and finish the drawing, otherwise it looked like a line in the sand. sneaky sneaky! But oh so clever! The fish represents God's call for us to be "Fishers of men"
"Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." Matthew 4:19
To share is gospel among the nations and bring his Children home.
When Hadassah saw the icthus sign on the edge of the table she knew, the vendor knew. God had answered her cry and need for community. I don't know why this part of the book touched me in such a way, but it did! It was half of my inspiration of the tattoo I got on my wrist. (yes, I have a tattoo and yes its white)
The other half of the reason I got this tattoo was inspired by my mom. She is my most solid rock and my greatest model for how I want to live as a Godly woman. Her love and devotion and faith in the Lord is indescribable to me.
A few years ago, she told me this phenomenal story of faith and miracles performed by our God. Hopefully I can give it justice by re-telling it here:
My mom had a very tough time during her pregnancies. She was allergic to a hormone that increased during pregnancy and therefore got terribly sick. When I say terrible sick, I mean she could not eat or drink hardly anything because she could not keep it down. During the first few months of pregnancy, with my older brother, my mom had lost about 20 pounds. They had to take her to the hospital to get a feeding tube to get nutrition to her and the baby. In this process, the tube has to be directed to the veins in the heart to pump the needed nutrition and vitamins where they needed to go. This process requires the doctors to go under the collarbone to insert a tube. Because of major dehydration, the veins were almost non-existent. After many many attempts to connect the tube doctors finally were connected.... with one major problem. In the process of locating the dehydrated veins, my mom's lung was punctured. She describes the feeling as trying to suck water through a straw with hole in it... it just doesn't happen. Because of my mom's fragile condition the doctors needed to move fast to figure out how much oxygen was gone and fix the problem. The procedure to determine the oxygen level is called a blood gas and is known as one of the most if not the most painful procedure done. Doctors have to go through the wrist, through a massive group of nerve endings that cannot be numbed. As the doctors were explaining this to my mom, she told me she heard my grandmother (who was standing behind her) start praying over her and at that moment my mom closed her eyes and prayed "Jesus, if you can take a nail in your wrist for me, I can certainly do this for you."At this moment, a group of doctors came in the room ready to hold my mom down as they went forward with the procedure. My mom, completely surrendered and ready. All of a sudden another doctor runs in the room, stops the procedure and insists on taking over. They went through with the procedure. My mom tells me that she never felt a thing. The procedure was painless and they ended up fixing what needed to be fixed.
What a testimony! An impossible made possible! In such a terrifying and helpless state, my mom completely surrendered everything to the Lord and trusted him, that he would take care of her and he did just that! THAT is the reason why I have that fish on my wrist. To remind me of the Lord's power and strength and his ultimate love for us, to be nailed to the cross... through his wrist... to die, so we can be with him in heaven forever. When we surrender ourselves to him and allow him to take control, he does. Amazing things happen. Some as present and instant as that... others much more subtle, but still very incredible.
My tattoo isn't merely a design or artwork, its a testimony and statement, its the mark of the Lion
"They will go after the LORD, who will roar like a lion" -Hosea 11:10