No matter where you travel around the world, historic events have been preserved in special places by the erection of some type of landmark. Whether it is a granite stone or an engraved steel plate, we can easily visit the location of a famous war, the birthplace of a prominent person, or the site of a significant, world-changing milestone. To the sentimental, landmarks are a cause to pause and reflect. To the curious, landmarks stir the imagination to creativity. But to the assertive in life, landmarks become the standard and the goal.
It seems the writers and characters of the Old Testament were very conscious of landmarks. Abraham built altars in the places he met the Lord. Jacob left markers in all the places his life was spiritually altered. Joshua left memorials of intimidation to the enemy in places where only God could have prevailed. Looking back over the landscape of our past, we can all quickly locate the landmark moments in our life. Our marriage, the birth of our children, and our salvation experience all qualify as a landmark. However, just how quickly do you recognize the landmark lives that have crossed your path? In Mark 14, Jesus marked a woman’s life with such an honor. Just days before His death on a cross, Mary of Bethany came and anointed Jesus. Her act was perceived as rude and wasteful. Her motive and intent was misinterpreted and misunderstood. Yet Jesus said of her, “…wherever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.” Her life became a landmark in the path of Jesus. What does it take to live a life worthy of spiritual landmark status?
Landmark lives draw attention to Jesus. Before Mary entered the room, all eyes were on Lazarus. And why not, he was still fresh from the grave. But, after Mary poured the entire contents of the bottle of perfume out, Jesus became the center of attention. Unless you had a sinus infection, WHO could miss Him? Like a bumble bee that is drawn into and hidden between the petals of a rose, a spiritual landmark life is consumed with the beauty and saturated with the aroma of Jesus. In Sicily, there are said to be herbs so aromatic, once they are sniffed by hunting dogs, the dogs never regain a true sense of smell again. I wonder how many have lost the path of direction because of the odor of our lives? It is not the scent our life pretends that counts, but rather the scent it projects! Far too many are living like Absalom who spent his life building a monument to his own existence, only to be buried in a forgotten forest beneath nameless stones.
Landmark lives desire approval from Jesus. At a time when even the disciples did not understand the plan and purpose of Jesus, Mary performs an act that incited their anger and brought outrage. But, before things could get out of control, Jesus commends her for her perception in thinking of Him. Her actions had nothing to do with what it would get her or where it would lead her. Her desire was to please Him and Him alone. In doing so, her spiritual instincts were heightened, and she performed a significant act to which she was oblivious. Because our society has taught us to focus on being politically correct, most of us will never know what we might have been capable of doing in life! If we could only understand, actions that draw the roar of approval from the crowd will rarely merit the smile of Jesus.
Landmark lives declare the awe of Jesus. Jesus boldly proclaims that her act was “…to anoint my body for burial.” This was said days in advance, and was declaring her act would stand the test of time! When Jesus cast the light of His eyes across Mary’s life, her shadow not only grew larger than life, it reached distances that were unimaginable. Most of what we do in our lives is known for a moment, but it fades even before our existence does. Leaving a legacy is not as much about leaving wonderful memories behind as it is leaving an example worthy to be followed.
In Revelation 3:12, those in the church of Philadelphia are challenged, “him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple…” Becoming a pillar of influence is not a title or position that can be bought. It is a trust that is earned. When Jesus puts his stamp of approval on a life, it is sure to be landmarked for eternity!
Alan Stewart: Dr. Alan Stewart has served as Senior Pastor of Rechoboth Baptist since December 1999. He attended The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Moody Bible Institute, Covington Theological Seminary, and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary.
Prior to pastoring the Tennessee church, Alan was an evangelist for 15 years. He has preached revivals/pastor’s conferences in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland. He also preached crusades/conferences in India, Hungary, and conducted a crusade in South Africa in August of 2009. Pastor Alan is married to Jeanne, and they are blessed with two children – Sierra and Seth.