The other day one of our kids came up to me in sort of a panic, asking me if “permanent marker” can be washed off or if it actually is permanent (as suggested by its name). Of course, at this point I start to panic a bit, wondering what piece of furniture or wall was just defaced by the very clearly labelled permanent marker.
It turns out that one of them “accidentally” drew on their own foot with a permanent marker and was worried that it was now a tattoo. I breathed a sigh of relief and told them not to worry and that it will wash off eventually.
Then I immediately qualified it with “but that doesn’t mean you should keep drawing on your skin with it, especially your face” because… you know… kids.
Anyway, it was cute how the thought of a permanent mark on one of their feet was so terrifying for them. Like, they were on the verge of tears. I had to reassure them that it was fine and that there wasn’t anything to worry about, and one of them said, “I guess it’s ok since no one looks at your feet anyway.” And yeah, I guess that too.
But the idea of a permanent mark, the lasting effect, the eternal kind of thing isn’t one that should be taken lightly. It is something that could and probably would affect the rest of your life. However, that always isn’t a bad thing, but can be made to be a really good, and perhaps even a joyful thing.
As you may have surmised by the obvious theme for next week, the “permanent mark” I was alluding to up there is baptism. But I don’t mean how getting baptized means that your head stays wet forever (while true for some more sweaty kids out there). I’m talking more of what baptism means for us, and what baptism effectively signifies.
While the whole idea of baptism is widely practiced, it isn’t completely understood. However, the best analogy that I ever came across (mostly because I came up with it), is that baptism is God’s way of giving you a physical hug. The hug itself doesn’t welcome you in love, but it signifies that you are loved. And not getting hugged doesn’t mean that you aren’t loved, it just means you didn’t get hugged. But when you do, it’s just proof that you are loved, have been loved, and will be loved.
We see this in Jesus’ own baptism, where the heavens were torn open and a voice declaring Jesus is loved. Sure, our baptisms aren’t as dramatic, but it says the same thing. And this thing that it says is everlasting. It is forever. It is permanent.
And this isn’t meant to scare us as much as it’s supposed to reassure us of this promise. We are loved and will always be loved… permanently. So whatever we might be feeling or thinking or going through, know that God loves us with the force that created the heavens and earth and tears open the heavens just so that this love might be able to enter into our lives and hearts.
As we enter into this new year still with some trepidation around this pandemic, may we all lean and rely on this promise of love ratified by baptism, both ours and Jesus’, that we can be strengthened to live confidently in a world of uncertainties and fears to love and serve God and neighbour.
Have a great week, everyone!