October 14, 2018 by Amy Shatrick
I have always been a low-maintenance person. I am not likely to lose my peace over the wrong food at a restaurant or freak out if something takes longer to arrive than promised. I am certainly oblivious to fashion trends, and I wear the same clothes and shoes for long periods of time. Shopping trips and spa days are few. Really, I am just a basic kind of girl. Maybe that is why a recent trip to the hair salon has stuck fast in my memory.
This past summer I decided, after decades of cheap haircuts, to up my game and try a salon. The young woman assigned to cut my hair did a great job. She was professional, listened well, and asked good questions. When she pulled out her black, leather-bound knife kit, I sat enthralled. She wielded those scissors with great expertise. I was so pleased that I determined to budget for a quality haircut.
My next appointment fell on a very hot and humid day, and everyone, including my stylist, was dressed accordingly. Normally bare arms would not catch my attention, but this day my eyes caught something unusual. On the left arm of this beautiful, tall creature were some very gruesome tattoos. I have never been put off by tattoos, and many times they are a great conversation starter, but this was oddly different. At first, I could not figure out what was being depicted, but then I saw him. Peering out from a slightly slanted brimmed hat were the onyx, beady eyes of an infamous horror movie villain. He was glaring eerily at me with his knives poised ready for action. If that were not enough to make one’s hair stand on end, there was another horror film icon etched eternally in his murderous act. I could not speak for a little while. When words finally came, I tried to lead her into a conversation about the artwork. Her easy demeanor changed and her only words were deadpan: “I like them.”
As the stylist lifted her professionally-sharpened scissors, my heart beat faster, my breath quickened, I wanted to leave. Something was wrong. This did not make any sense to me. Why would someone want to have iconic cultural symbols of death tattooed onto her body?
Death is not natural. A love of death is not natural either. Death is the result of sin. God instructed Adam, “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17).
Later in Genesis, we read that after being tempted by the serpent, Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden tree. By choosing to disobey the God that loved them, Adam and Eve ushered in sin and death to all of creation. Fellowship with God was broken and death began its reign.
We can see the aftermath of this choice daily. The human race is haunted by death. It brings fear, anxiety, and sin as we fall into idolatrous ways of dealing with our feelings. The president of the American Psychiatry Association, Anita Everett, said in May 2018, “US adults are increasingly anxious particularly about health, safety, and finances.”
For years I struggled with fear and anxiety. After much contemplation as to why I had these feelings, I believe that I had an innate fear of death. After walking with Jesus for over 20 years, it is now clear that I have been rescued from this death. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has paid the penalty that my sin incurred. I have been freed from the fear of judgment and death that was written on my heart. Jesus shows us the path to freedom in John 11:25-26: “Jesus said to her, ‘I Am the Resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?’”
I am so thankful Jesus has given all of us hope that we can be free from the fear of death. Hebrews 2:14-15 comforts those who believe, “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, [Jesus] himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death He might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.”
I do not know why that lovely young woman has decided to honor death by placing those tattoos on her body. Death is not something to celebrate. I think of her often and pray God will call her to freedom. Jesus came to set us free from death and give us life.
We have hope in these words from the apostle Paul: “But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:20-22).
Father, thank you for this good news. Would you please be near the one reading this who is struggling with this fear of death? Help us to know that if we place our faith in Jesus, we can rest and throw off the fear of death once and for all. Please bless those who read this with Your Peace.
Hallelujah and Amen