Memory Tattoos

Every once in a while, I come across an article that possesses such insight, such wisdom that it is worth reading over and over again. It is not only worth keeping but sharing as well. Sifting through a box I had labeled “do not throw away,” I stumbled across an older correspondence entitled, “Memory Tattoos.”

I decided to update and share it with the broader audience of those who have subscribed to my blog. You may think this topic only applies to men. Unfortunately, recent surveys indicate otherwise.

The topic is a sensitive one. It is not an easy subject to discuss. It is one that might be a little uncomfortable. The subject is lust.

I read somewhere that men think about sex every 7 seconds. I also read where women are incredulous as they cannot imagine what men think about the other 6 seconds!

We live in a culture that worships sex. Most R-rated movies would have been X-rated just 30 years ago. No matter where you turn, it stares at you, and all too frequently, we stare back. It is in the lyrics of music, in advertising, on TV, in the movies, as well as on the internet. It’s like walking through a minefield every day. We step on the mine, and it explodes with a brief temporary moment of visual pleasure. The more we see, the more we want to see. The more desensitized we become. Greater is the perversion required to satisfy our carnal appetite. It is a path we easily walk down never realizing how difficult it is to regain an appetite for that which is Good and True and Right.

So what does all of this have to do with a Memory Tattoo? That was the name of a devotion dated April 18, 2008, written by Lane McGullionin in a booklet titled “Men of Integrity.” Here’s what he wrote,

“It sounded good at the time. A fire-breathing dragon tattooed to your bulging bicep to make the girls swoon. But now, farther down the road of life, you no longer run with that crowd. Maybe you have a couple of boys of your own, and don’t want them to make the same mistake. What are your options?

It sounded good at the time. Your wife was away for the weekend. You gave in to the temptation of internet porn, flooding your mind with graphic sexual images. What started with a weekend extended into a habitual pattern. But now, farther down the road of life, the Lord has freed you from porn, and you’re careful to guard what your eyes see. But those past images — tattooed on your brain as permanently as the dragon on your bicep — still haunts you. What are your options?

The answer to both dilemmas is light. The most successful tattoo removal technique is laser surgery. Over the course of several treatments, the intense pulses of light will fade the tattoo until it is gone. For the impure thoughts trapped in your mind, try the intense light of Scripture. Flood your brain with the purity of His Word and those old thought patterns will begin to fade. It’ll take time, but purity is worth the effort.”

This particular devotional went on to recommend burning away memory tattoos by memorizing Psalm 63:1-8. Curious, I looked up those verses:

O God, you are my God, I seek you,
    my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
    as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
    beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
    my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live;
    I will lift up my hands and call on your name.

My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast,[a]
    and my mouth praises you with joyful lips
when I think of you on my bed,
    and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
    and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
    your right hand upholds me.

Reading this Psalm of David, I could not help but think how often, in years gone by, I repeatedly had to make that choice. Do I thirst for and pursue true intimacy with God or am I to be satisfied with a temporary pleasure and an illusion of intimacy? Life is just full of such choices.

As a Christian, I have learned that God does not expect us to overcome such temptations alone. Thankfully, Psalm 63:8 reminds us that God’s “right hand upholds me.” This Psalm is not some magical formula to scare off evil spirits. It is the heartfelt expression of a man who thirsts for righteousness and knows from whence his help comes — a help that is available to all of us.

Pondering the significance of the truth of verse 8 – “Your right hand upholds me” – I asked myself what or who is at God’s right hand? Colossians 3:1 provides an illuminating answer: “keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”

Even a Georgia Tech graduate like me can figure this one out.

  • God’s right hand upholds me.
  • Jesus is at God’s right hand.
  • Jesus is my ever-present help.

This fight is not one that I, nor you, have to face alone and THAT is a memory I wouldn’t mind having tattooed on my brain.

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  1. Richard Willits

    I’ve known you a long time…you do. I saw it! I saw it even before I knew you went to GT…

    P. S. Your blogs are amazing… How about sharing some anonymous feedback.



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