>Missing Persons, Suspects, and Convicts


 My Distinguishing Mark (Written in Dermatographia). July, 2011.

Distinguishing Marks

Driving home the other day I passed police activity at the side of the road. A squad car blocked the bicycle lane, its lights spinning round like an amped-up lighthouse, as the officer spoke to the driver of a compact car with a fat tailpipe and spoiler.

I remembered a time, years ago now, when a rookie cop and his trainer had responded to my call reporting suspicious activity in my neighborhood. I described what I’d seen: people jumping a fence and prying up the wooden hatch on the root cellar of a vacant bungalow two doors down.

The young officer nodded. Then he asked me for my name, place of birth, and identification. As he studied my drivers license, he asked, “Do you have any distinguishing marks? Scars, birthmarks, tattoos?”

I raised one eyebrow and glanced at the senior officer. “Um, aren’t those the questions you ask the bad guys?”

“We collect that information about missing persons, too, Ma’am.” 

It was an odd exchange, long forgotten. But when it arose in my recollection, it set me to thinking about my own history as suspect, missing person, and convict.

We’ve all had occasions where we’ve been suspected of doing wrong. When we’re guilty, the suspicion swirling about makes us nervous; when we’re innocent, it stirs indignation.

I spent a chunk of my life as a missing person, too, having only a dim awareness of my Father and His love for me. A few years ago God found me and I joyfully took my place in His family.

And then I learned that I’m a convict. My life story is a rap sheet of crimes and misdemeanors committed against God’s will.

God knows I’m a convict and He loves me anyway. He knows every blemish of my heart, every scar I’ve left on someone else’s heart–and still He paid my fine with the blood of His Son. From here on, may my salvation be my only distinguishing mark.

 1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Romans 8:1-4 (NASB)