a faint design made in paper during manufacture that is visible when held against the light, identifying the maker.
What are the defining moments of life, the watermarks that are impressed into our souls by a divinely Artistic Hand, that help to make us the living manuscript we eventually become?
The first time you ride a bicycle, drive a car, your first kiss, graduation day, the day you marry, the birth of a child. These are mostly positive events, but how much of an impact on your soul do they really make? But there are multitudes of events that mark us, blows received in so many ways over a lifetime, suffering so deep for some that most of us will never understand. Most of us are hardened and embittered by it, but others become radiant as they reflect the Glory of God.
“That we might know the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings.” What treasure.
I am in a new and unfamiliar period in life. The marks are deeper, more harsh; the strokes are bolder, less discriminating and more… deliberate. Perhaps they are so decisive because the Lord knows that the time is getting short, that I am able to stand it better, that there is a lot of ground to cover in little time. It feels more like a sculptor removing large chunks of waste material, trying to rough out the statue before the fine chisel work begins.
One of these “markings” is the aging of my parents. I find myself watching for the imminent death of my father. This is not an unusual event at all for most of us, but a watermark that I’d just as soon excuse myself from altogether. Once tall, dark and very handsome, Dad is now a bent old man. His hands are weak, his hair thin, he uses a cane, and his once razor sharp mind is not so sharp. He is at once a near-empty shell of himself, and yet a magnificent sailing ship ready to depart on a long journey. A grain of wheat, ready to be sown in corruption. And forever the man I will call father.
I have many fond memories of him, yet the most enduring may be what I saw the last time I was home. I had walked to the end of the hall to see if he was sleeping, I was hoping he’d be awake so that I might spend more time talking with him. The bedroom door was ajar, and I peered through it. He was awake. There was a man, his body consumed by leukemia, humbly sitting there in his underclothes, his hands folded in prayer, his lips barely moving as he prayed to his God. That image is forever burned into my mind, never to be erased. I don’t want it to be. To most this would be a sad sight, but it was actually glorious. It was the gift of a watermark for both of us, part of a design that will one day be visible when held up to the Light.