This week, I'm thawing out in a place warm and far away from the frozen Midwest! I leave you with news that is great...no matter what your state of mind...
Lenny pushes his sleeves back up and perches on a stool. I sit next to him. Our eyes meet. Inspired by the memory of my past drug issues, I point to his tattoo and ask, “Where’d ya get that?”
Lenny hangs his head. I can’t see his eyes, but I expect they’ve gone dull.
“You like tattoos?” I shove up my right sleeve. “Check this out!”
“Miss Bonnie!” Lenny eyes snap back to life. “When did you do that?”
A few yards away, I can see Ms. Fancy Handbag watching me with her mouth wide open. “Last month. It was a birthday present to myself.”
Lenny whistles. “No kiddin’!”
“After forty-six years, I finally got the nerve.”
Again his head dips. “Yeah, well, I wish I’d lost the nerve.”
I touch his arm. “I also waited so long to make sure this is what I wanted forever tattooed on my skin.”
He grimaces. “That was smart.”
“Don’t let me kid you, Lenny.” I roll my eyes. “Smart was not in my vocabulary back when I was your age.”
“You’re sh—ing me.”
“Not at all. If you’re talking regrets, I’ve got a boatload.”
Lenny’s eyes come to life. “Like what?”
I run my hand over the scroll needled into my skin. “Drugs, to start with.”
“No way!” His chin dimples. “Not you.”
“Both of us.” I point to Tom. “If it was out there, we tried it.” I meet his incredulous look. “That’s why I chose this verse.”
He hooks his feet around a stool rung and leans so close to my tattoo, I feel his breath on the skin of my arm. Life. Breath. Oh, God, wake Lenny up with Your Spirit! “Isaiah 49:16: that’s the verse; right out of the Bible.”
Behold, I have graven thee on the palms of My hands…
Lenny studies my arm. I wonder, did he ever hear about this verse way back in the day when he ran into this place, hungry for the Bible’s truth? “Can you read the words?” I ask.
“Remember the nails used to pound Jesus to the cross?” I rub the ink on my arm that shows blood dripping from a cross. “It was a torture instrument, suffered by the Son of God. Nothing fancy or frilly about it. This shows the price He paid. For you. For me.”
Lenny puts his elbow on the bar and cups his chin in his hand. His sweet head is surely weighed down with the problems of living life in the fast lane here on the West Side.
“Jesus took our sins on that cross. When we ask for forgiveness, He writes our names on the palms of His Hands.” Words pour out of me like a faucet handle’s been cranked. “I’ve been tattooed by Jesus, both here on my arm and in my heart. I’ll never forget the price He paid and what I’m worth in His eyes.”
“Wow!” Lenny shakes his head. “That’s awesome.”
“So is the gift of forgiveness and eternal life. It’s free for anyone who believes in Jesus as Savior.”
Lenny looks out the window. He sets down his coffee and pats his jeans. “Sounds great.”
“It is great, and not just for after death, but for right here and now.” I wave toward the street where the battle plays out every night. Right there on Washington Street. Right where Lenny lives.
“You heard about the Holy Spirit back when you were a little kid. Remember how we talked about Him giving you help even here, even in this world?”
Lenny clears his throat. “Um, everything sounds great right now. I’m kinda high.”