Markers

A famous scifi writer whose famous name I famously can’t remember once wrote that when people asked him, “What’s your secret? How do you get all those ideas?”, he replied, “Would you tell me, maybe, your secret of not getting ideas, so I can get a little sleep?”

About three hours into my first good night’s sleep in six weeks, I woke up at 2am with this word in my mind: MARKERS. There are several definitions, but this is the one I was … spoken to? (felt like it) about: online dictionary: “Marker: some conspicuous object used to distinguish or mark something. Related words: Beacon. Beam of light. Lighthouse. Memento. Memorial. Milepost. Monument. Radar beacon. Remembrance. Testimonial. Trophy.

What are the markers in your life? What “conspicuous objects” distinguish moments in your life? What would be said of you by someone who knew you perfectly in a memorial service for you?

You may be thinking, “Nothing.”   :E :E :E   Want to bet?

Or maybe you’d prefer to change the subject. But the Bible says we ALL have markers. Moments and events in our lives that are so honorable, so good, that God Almighty, the Holy One of Israel, He Himself can not bear to withhold His praise from us for those moments and events. The apostle Paul wrote, “For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive commendation from God.” (1st Corinthians 4:4-5)

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:12-13)

If the Hebrews passage sounds scary, go back and read the 1st Corinthians passage again. God is just, and He loves you. Yes, you, sitting in the back row at church and never making eye contact with the preacher. You who wince almost every Sunday at words from the Bible. You who long ago quit going to church from disgust, but have disgraced yourself at the last dozen parties you went to. You who drink too much, who … never mind. The point is, God knows you, and in spite of your sins and foul-ups, He rejoices in, revels in, those things that you did or tried to do from good motives.

“For your ways are in full view of the Lord, and He examines all your paths.”

All your paths. He saw the time you rescued that kitten from a large and fierce dog. He saw you refuse to steal. He saw you turn away from a seducer and remain faithful to your marriage vows, even though your faithfulness meant nothing to your spouse. He saw you put in ten or twenty years doing your best for a company that never even acknowledged your effort.

He heard you speak up for the reputation of someone who was being viciously slandered. He saw your righteous anger and your instant defense of that helpless innocent person. He saw you take care of friend or family when it cost you more than you could well afford.

He saw it all.

We’re just ordinary people who have never done a Lone Ranger rescue or even a CPR resuscitation in our lives. Who failed to complete high school. Who can’t dance. Who have never been whistleblowers who toppled crime bosses. We can’t expect to have ballads sung in our honor about our “markers”.

You think not?

For starters, those of us who have the unequalled, undeserved joy and privilege of having become believers in Jesus … our lives are being chronicled by an editor, a producer, a director, and their crews, who are allowed to ignore our failures and sins and make ballads about our successes in Jesus Christ. Because if we are in Christ, our sins are forgiven, forgotten, deleted from the record. The record books are then defaced so that no one for all eternity can ever possibly read how far we fell.

But our victories will be / are being recorded by those Watchers who, seeing our epic accomplishments, exclaim, “Did you see that? I want to make a movie about that!”

You never thought you’d be material for a Hollywood epic movie, did you? But this isn’t Hollywood we’re talking about. This is the Kingdom of God, where a believer’s sins are washed away by the blood of Jesus, and the good we did, in fact the good that every person did, believer or not, is turned into legend.

We all have moments that may not be dramatic at all. We may not think of ourselves as heroes, but God sees these moments, and He’s going to brag on everyone for those things when His Kingdom comes.

A Roman centurion demonstrated his faith in a Jewish Messiah on behalf of the centurion’s servant, no less, and the King of Kings give him one of the highest compliments we have on record from Him: “I tell you, I have not found faith like this in all Israel!”

A poverty-stricken widow who gave her last two cents to God – and King Jesus said “I tell you, this will be remembered as a memorial for her forever.” A single Mom who teaches her son that God’s tithe comes out of the paycheck before anything else, no matter what the apparent loss. She may think that’s not important, but she’ll be one of those featured on Heaven’s “Quiet Heroes” channel. Bet on it.

A proud warrior walking to the medevac chopper after being shot in the leg. (Try walking on a leg with a bullet through it sometime.) Another warrior who took a through-and-through shot to his chest from a powerful sniper’s rifle, who refused to fall over, but turned and made an obscene gesture in the direction of the sniper. I’d love to have seen that frustrated sniper’s face. 😀

Warriors from the time of spear, bow and arrow who were such fierce fighters for Israel that their names are listed in the Bible! See 2nd Samuel chapter 23. There’s even an incident of three of them going into stealth mode and sneaking into the enemy camp at night to get their king a drink of water from a special well he remembered from his youth. Incredible courage and skill.

Jehovah jirei. “Jehovah will see.” Amen.

We, all human beings, are created in the image of God. So it’s not surprising that in even the worst life, the most depraved, immoral life, there are events that God will boast about on their behalf. Sometimes we actually act like images of God.

I tell you as a believer in Jesus for fifty-nine years now, our markers are being chronicled by Heaven’s counterparts to Steven Spielberg. John Ford. Mel Gibson. Legends themselves, some of them (I believe) are angels, and some of them humans who like us have “overcome the world” by faith in Jesus. They have a vision, a compulsion, to tell our stories in the next life, and they will be given the resources to do so in ways and with technology so far beyond what we see here that Spielberg and other purely secular giants will weep with envy.

A couple of nights ago, I watched “The making of Jurassic Park”. I’ve watched similar documentaries about the making of Star Wars and The Untouchables. Experts in many disciplines, creative thinkers who threw away “the box” and in triumph “went where no man had gone before”, they created new worlds of imagination that brought to life for us history and fantasy in ways that shook the entertainment industry and us.

Remember the lines at theaters when “Star Wars” first came out? Have you ever watched those documentaries and seen the joy of epic achievement written on the faces of those who gave up large chunks of their lives to smash barriers and chronicle or create legends? You should. It’s being done for your life too.

“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.” (Revelation 20:11-12)

Fathers and husbands who stood by their wives and children, who taught by example that no matter what the cost, you are to do right and trust God that He will vindicate and reward you on the Judgment Day, if not sooner. Honorable women against whom, even in this dirty world, there is no whisper of dishonor. Those men and women who turned down promotions because they put their families first … or put their honor first. My father was one of those.

Pastors, family, neighbors, elders, deacons and deaconesses who “come alongside” those who are suffering or enduring hardship and ease their burdens. One of these recently told me that when she expressed a desire to help people, an elder in her church warned her, “Whenever you help people, there is sacrifice involved.” That’s no exaggeration.

Businessmen and businesswomen who scorn the callous, cold, easy-buck, power-drunk, ways of their contemporaries to deal with honor with their customers and employees. I think such a supervisor of mine was fired recently because he would not compromise. Would not lie to clients. His name was removed from the company without notice while I was on medical leave. All I heard when I returned was, “He’s out.” Yet I know him to be a man of dedication to his job, and a man of honor. And I had the privilege of working for seven years for a property manager whose honor was amazing.

You didn’t think God kept a record? You didn’t think you could ever claim hero status? But God has His own list of Heroes, and His own standards, and He considers our ability (or lack of ability) and our opportunities, or lack thereof, and not just “the bottom line”.

And on the Judgment Day, “every one will have praise from God.” So take heart! “Be of good courage”, as His Word says. Not one sparrow falls to the ground without His presence, and you are worth more than a flock of sparrows.

Yes, you! How much more? You are worth the death of His Son to save you. Do you understand? He loves you more than any of us can understand in this life, and nothing righteous that you achieve or attempt escapes His awareness. Being a supremely just God, loving you so immeasurably much, He will brag about your markers in the halls of Heaven, and the movie He and His production crew make of your life will astound you.

So run the race clean. If you’re a believer in Jesus, fight the good fight of faith in Jesus Christ. When you have finished, there will be a reward and a crown reserved for you, and they will be awarded in a public ceremony at the biggest, loudest, happiest celebration the Universe has ever seen!

And you won’t be alone. There will be a crowd of friends, family, and total strangers laughing and crying for joy right along with you. It’s gonna be a Heaven of a party!

There’s a land that is fairer than day,
and by faith we can see it afar,
where the Father waits over the way.
He’s prepared us a dwelling place there

In the sweet by and by,
we shall meet on that beautiful shore.
In the sweet by and by,
we shall meet on that beautiful shore.

We shall sing on that beautiful shore
the melodious songs of the blest;
and our spirits shall sorrow no more,
not a sigh for the blessing of rest.

To our bountiful Father above
we will offer our tribute of praise
for the glorious gift of his love
and the blessings that hallow our days!