“By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.”
1 Corinthians 3:10-15
On Monday (27th March), Mark Palmer of The Landing Place Finished his battle with cancer. Alan Creech wrote a moving tribute here. Following Jesus, Mark surrendered his body to death, and his spirit to Life; and in so doing defeated the cancer in its moment of victory. Mark's first wife, Jennifer, Finished her own battle with cancer just a few years ago; he leaves behind Amy, his wife; and Micah, Mark and Jennifer's four-year-old son. Pray for them.
I never knew Mark; but I knew of him, of his influence; I know people whose lives were touched, directly, by him; count myself as someone whose life was, and is, touched indirectly by him; and have been deeply impacted by the blogged response to his passing.
And as I have allowed that response to impact me, I have been drawn to these words [above] from 1 Corinthians. The measure of a man is what he builds, on the foundation of Jesus, and what others have built on that foundation before him; what he leaves behind. The gold, silver and costly stones Mark built with are the lives he invested in: and those lives are being tested by fire - passing through the burning flames of death. Everything Mark invested in that was not worthy of his Lord - and we all make such investments; all build, at times, without care - is being burnt away: in time, it will not even be remembered. Not that Mark will be remembered with rose-tinted spectacles; but that the wood, hay and straw have been dealt with - count for nothing - and only the gold, silver and costly stones remain. For now, those who knew and loved Mark are walking through the fire. The fire will pass - the fire, not the sense of loss - and the gold, already precious, will have been refined. For God redeems even the fire.
Mark was an ordinary man. He was an extraordinary man. There was nothing particularly special about him. Everything about him was incredibly special. Much quality building survives Mark; and he will receive his reward. And his life causes me to reflect on my own: I am an ordinary man...what will survive me? We are all ordinary men and women...what will survive each one of us? I want to leave behind a legacy that will stand, that others will build on in their turn, and which will last into eternity...
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour…”
Isaiah 43:2, 3a