Mark Darling – Story 99
There are 2 kinds of people in the world. Those who like Batman, and those who like Superman. Perhaps it’s the abrasive primary colors that put me off, but the real difficulty I have with Superman is the general lack of a challenge. I need to see struggles to understand how I should face them myself. The Christian life is no different. If I want a real faith, I’ve got to see real struggles. Mark Darling has shown me exactly that–all that I need to believe in the midst of life’s real struggles.
Like Paul, Mark is a walking scar. His life’s riddled with bullets, many the likes of which I may never see. Car accidents, medical bills, poverty, sickness, slander, persecution, and through it all the daily pressure of maintaining the church. And as I watch Mark’s life, from one struggle to the next, one thing becomes more and more apparent. Mark is not superman.
Mark is not perfect. He doesn’t always do the right thing. He’s not the white knight the world’s looking for. But in so many ways he’s done more for me than the most polished and perfected figure ever could.
Luke shares with us that it is our care, not our perfection, that measures our greatness (Luke 9:48b TLB) and it is a dramatic care that emanates from Mark, even in the midst of the most trivial troughs of life. People need dramatic examples to shake them out of apathy. I need to see deep care to be moved outside myself.
In my first and second years as a new Father, the struggles began flooding every nook and cranny of my life. Exhaustion set in. Dishes and laundry backed up. Financial disasters struck. Depression turned to a deeper despair as hope was lost at the thought that I could not escape or bring about change in my life. I don’t know how it first happened or why, but I began listening to Mark’s stories at work, and identified with him in both large and small ways.
Mark and I share a mutual affection for black, for leather, for artistic style, for symbolism, for authenticity, for practicality, for wisdom, for understanding, for zeal, for God, for family, and for a genuine care of God’s people. We are both perfectionists and at times are rudely awakened to the foolishness of our own unrealistic expectations. We cast off the norm, shun the mediocre, and aspire to the great.
Perhaps the most practical lesson ever shared by Mark throughout his messages is the thought that “The servant of all is the greatest of all.” There’s nothing that brings me to my knees in tears like the hope of one day hearing the words come from Jesus’ mouth, “Well done good and faithful servant.” I do not want to miss those words. Mark inspires me to live for that sole audience with Christ. The hope that my light and momentary troubles could achieve for me that eternal glory has given me a renewed vigor to embrace the personal crosses I’ll carry in life, and to put on the clothes of a servant and love those in front of me with a changed heart and renewed attitude.
It was because of Mark’s life that I began rising early before my family each day to renew myself in the truths of scripture and in prayer. I have sought to put on the role of a servant and make myself like the McDonald’s employee where it really matters–even daily to those in my home. I want to model a servant’s love well. And by God’s grace, that is what I am becoming. Today I take out the trash, do the dishes, fold the laundry, make breakfasts, fill the car up, make the budget, and seek to make it all my joy because Mark modeled a servant’s lifestyle to me and made it attractive.
Last fall I was most blessed to receive a jacket from Mark as a gift and each time I put it on it reminds me to step into the role of a servant. As Mark’s “diesel” (die to self) ring has served as a reminder to him, so this jacket has served as a reminder to me to cast off my own desires, and to be whatever I need to be to whomever I must. And it has not lost its effect.
Mark’s never been the Harvey Dent of Gotham–a two faced figure clothed in white and paraded around as a champion. At least not to me. Rather from one struggle to the next he continues to share his weaknesses as a husband, father, pastor, and friend. He models to me how to not be a hero, but to be something more. He takes the dive and inspires me to be whatever you need to be for the people you love–even if they hate you for it–and to point to a white hero beyond yourself, that is Christ. His role might not be the one the church needs right now, but his heart for God and people is a heart that God deserves from all of us. He’s a passionate lover of God and servant of all. A Dark Knight.
Shared by Loren