Magic Markers and Red Beets

Ecclesiastes 3:11; Matthew 26:13

Growing up in the parsonage, we realized that other pastor’s families had lived in that house before us, and other pastor’s families would live there after us. In that generation, we moved about every two to three years.We just couldn’t bear the thought of Mrs. Bridlesnort trying to remember whether Bro. Wellborn had two kids or three, and were they boys or girls. What would set us apart in the minds and hearts of all the other P.K.s (Preacher’s Kids) who inhabited the humble domicile? Anonymity was not an option. We must leave our mark for years to come, and what better way to leave your mark than Marks-a-lot!

One Tuesday night while the Women’s Missionary Union was meeting in the living room, my sister, my brother, and I were in the bedroom decorating the walls with Marks-a-lot. We drew and drew to our hearts’ content.  Actually, I was the painting pioneer of the bunch. A year earlier, I had joined in with the Methodist preacher’s son in decorating the whitewashed exterior of the elementary school with Tempra-paint. We carefully included portraits of Charlie Brown, Batman, Spiderman, and a couple of original works. The discipline that followed left me undaunted in my quest for immortality. There we were, in the bedroom, marks-a-lotting true Renoir-brandt-caso works. For future reference, Marks-a-lot products are longer lasting than Sherwin-Williams.

My siblings and I chose a poor means to build a heritage. In fact, most people choose poorly in that regard. Some dedicate all their efforts to maintaining their status in the current headlines and evening news. That is short-lived and gets more and more burdensome as the novelty wears off. Coming up with the newest outrage can be a challenge. Some contribute massive sums of money to have their name emblazoned on the exterior of a building or stadium that will be demolished only a few decades later. Some establish charitable trusts and foundations, which fare moderately better. One person, however, chose a momentary humble act of love that has built a legacy, now over 2,000 years old.
Shortly before Jesus’ arrest, trial, and crucifixion, he was having supper at with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus at the home of Simon the leper. In a single brief act of extreme affection, passion, and devotion, Mary brought some very expensive perfumed ointment and poured it on Jesus’ head. Judas complained about the waste (as church treasurers often do). Jesus pointed out that this was in place of the burial anointing which he would not otherwise receive.


Claudette Colbert, Brigitte Bardot, and Greta Garbo were stars, no, superstars! Now that you’ve Googled their names (you know you did), go challenge any college or high school student to recognize the names or why they were famous. Even the most famous names of our day will soon enough be forgotten.

I have a very eclectic taste in music. Basically, I like it all (country and rap in small doses only), but I once heard a statement about the difference between classical and pop music. Classical music was the popular music of its day. If a song is still being performed after five or six years, it’s popular. If a song is still being played after 300 years, it’s classical. Music, literature, art, movies all have their stars, and they will one day be only faintly remembered in old people’s conversations.

The teacher of Ecclesiastes brings to our attention that something in human nature wants to leave a legacy which endures beyond our own times. In fact, he says, that it is God who put that desire in our hearts. The well-known passage about God’s sovereignty over time and timing was made popular to a whole new generation in 1965 by The Byrds.
“To everything – turn, turn, turn, There is a season – turn, turn, turn – And a time to every purpose under heaven.”

The teacher asks, if time keeps marching on and there’s nothing new under the sun, what profit is there in our work? God has put eternity in the heart of humanity. What part of our work will outlast our mortality?

The only acts that leave a truly lasting heritage and memorial are the things we do out of passion for Christ. Those things live forever because he lives forever. He will make sure, as he did with Mary, that we are properly recognized. The other gospels tell the story, but only John mentions her name. The act, however is mentioned “wherever the gospel is preached.” That’s quite an endorsement.

I almost forgot. We did leave our tribute in the little house at 505 S.W. 10th Street. My sister and I had the daily chore of supper dishes. She washed, I dried. One night, we realized we could put leftover bits of food in the middle of a dishrag, jerk the ends tight, and it would flip the food up in the air. We didn’t normally leave much food, but there was a particular vegetable we all hated, well, all of us kids anyway.

The dish-washing was boring, so we carefully placed slices of the dreaded dish in the middle of the dishrag, jerked the ends tight, and watched them flip in the air. It stuck to the ceiling! At that point, the contest was on. Who could stick their slice and make it stay the longest? I lost. Two of my slices bounced off the ceiling and ricocheted into the light fixture. “Did you see that?” I whispered. We thought it best to let our parents do their own discovery. (If you’re gonna hang me, don’t ask me for the rope.) We forgot the incident soon enough, and in a year we moved to a new congregation. Somehow, there is a sense of self-fulfillment knowing that one day someone in the kitchen looked up and saw (pause for effect) red beets.

Published in: on February 22, 2016 at 10:17 am  Comments (1)  

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  1. 😄

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