Just over four years ago, I was asked by one of my uncles to travel to Adelaide to spend some time with one of my cousins.
Mark had been unwell for some time in an encounter with Jack The Dancer and Uncle Graham was thinking a little longer term than just this Earthly life. He wanted to know that Mark’s eternity was in safe hands.
I flew to Adelaide for a day with my mate Dave Williams and we spent the most part of it at Flinders with Mark and also had some great time with his beloved sister Annette. Precious times indeed. We chewed the fat for a bit, talked about old Planet Square gigs and good times, Morgan trips and all the usual banter with many questions like “Beer?“. Unfortunately, the hospital policy didn’t enable us to partake of such an invitation, yet the invitations continued to flow.
After a while, I asked Mark how his cancer was going and he informed me that he knew this was a round he was going to lose, but he was doing his best to keep everyone else’s spirits up about it all. I asked him if he had given much thought to what came next, and if he was OK to talk about it. His face lit up and he said that he would love to talk about it. From there, we got straight to the point as he brought up issues like Heaven and Hell and asked what I thought. I gave him a very quick run through the good news as explained in the first few chapters of the book of Romans. Basically none of us qualify on our own and none of us can achieve or earn eternity with God, but God has chosen to give it out freely as a gift to any and all, who accept the free gift of salvation through the provision of His Son Jesus Christ. We did a ten minute comparison of religion v’s relationship…talked about how religion wants us to try harder and be good enough and sin less and all that, but how relationship is more about us walking with Jesus and letting Him affect and shape our lives through daily encounters, conversations and impartations.
There came a point in the discussion where Mark’s whole face changed…there was faith in his eyes…and he told me that although he hadn’t been a very good “God botherer” going to church all the time and doing all the right things, he did know and trust in the person of Jesus Christ. We talked about that as the only Biblical distinction and qualifying factor and that as long he had a personal relationship with Jesus, Mark’s observation of religion was really not at all important. I asked him if he was willing to put his trust for the future in Jesus’ hands and thereby have a certainty about his eternity and he said he absolutely was.
Mark also expressed his frustration that no one had ever showed him this gospel (good news) truth so clearly before. Although brought up in a number of churches, he had been left thinking it was about religious performance and that he was simply not good enough. He thanked me for taking the time to visit and to present the truth of scripture to him and told me to please make sure every one else got to hear the truth like that so they too could accept the free gift available to them through Jesus Christ.
Annette and Dave rejoined us after that conversation and Dave commented on the totally different atmosphere in the room when he returned…he said it was like a different room and a different person. Although Mark was facing physical death, spiritual life had entered the room!
Sadly Mark did leave project Earth a couple of weeks later, but here is what his sister Annette recently shared about that time:
When my precious brother took his last breath four years ago today, we were shattered and grief stricken. This was the worse moment of my whole life. We sat together, still arm in arm, crying and trying to absorb the reality of what had just happened. After about 20 minutes I rang the bell and the night nurse came into the room. We went outside into the courtyard under the full grown english plain trees and sat waiting for our family to arrive. It was a very hot, still, balmy night around 1.30am. As we sat waiting, I looked up into the tops of the trees. The moonlight was twinkling and dancing on the leaves and I saw a wind swirling around and around in the tree tops. It was so beautiful and to my surprise, I felt a calm peace and serene joy come over me. I sensed that the wind was a free spirit that had just been released, sawing high, ecstatic with such happiness that he’d never know before. Free from the pain and horror, he was now serenely happy and in a perfect state of being and knowing, that he had never experienced on earth before. He was on his way to that eternal perfect place we can only imagine and hope for. My precious brother was on his way home.
Mark is sadly missed by so many, but we very much look forward to seeing him again soon and being greeted by a smiling face, pointing at the person next to him and saying something like “What the hell took you so long? Beer?” There goes my hero…but keep it cold, I’ll be there soon!