FORT TOTTEN, N.D. (BP) -- "What is on your shirt?"
"Um, permanent marker."
Every mother hates those words from the lips of her small child. Not only does she see the evidence as it appears on the offender, she also envisions the room, furniture, floor, toys and siblings that also might have been targeted.
Permanent markers, as you know, are permanent. There's hardly a soap, detergent or magic eraser that can erase whatever marks they make.
Cleaning the marks gives one adequate time to reflect on the difference between permanent markers and washable Crayolas, and after the frustration ebbs, it's a good time to consider the difference between things that come to an end and eternal things.
When the apostle Paul wrote his second letter to the Corinthian church, he contrasted the Old Covenant given through Moses with the New Covenant granted through Jesus. When Moses received the Old Covenant, it was glorious. The mountain appeared to be on fire. There were rumbles and peals of thunder and flashing light. There was no question that God was who He claimed to be, that He had the authority to give law, and that He is glorious.
His glory was so overwhelmingly bright that Moses came down the mountain with a shiny face. The people, intimidated and frightened by this, asked Moses to cover his face, so he used a veil.
But it is interesting how the apostle Paul describes this to the Corinthians. He says the Old Covenant that was written on stone tablets, brings death and condemnation, is being brought to an end, is veiled, and resulted in hardened minds even though it came with a colorful display of God's glory.
It's like those washable Crayola markers. The children are happy and excited about them when they're new and they like to see the pretty colors on the page. However, they are temporary. One day, those markers will dry out, lose their caps or have their tips get frayed from use or snipped off with scissors. The user makes them temporary.
The New Covenant, Paul writes, will be written on people's hearts, gives life and righteousness, reveals freedom and transformation, and has eternal permanency because it has come through the Holy Spirit.
Here's our permanent marker. What self-respecting 4-year-old would use the washable Crayola when a box of permanent markers is near? Don't we all long to make our permanent mark on the world?
God's New Covenant offers eternal permanency. As Paul wrote, "For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory" (2 Corinthians 3:7-11).
Just imagine the glory of what is permanent in comparison to the great glory of what was temporary!
After all this theological reflection, it's easy for the mother's mind (and any Christian's) to get lost in the churchy words and heavy concepts. However, Paul's point here is that an eternally permanent covenant with the Lord results in permanent transformation in the lives of believers. No longer are our minds hardened or veiled. Now, we have the freedom to be transformed to be more like Him.
Mother, how is God's permanent covenant with you changing your thoughts, behaviors, speech patterns and attitudes? Author Francine Rivers compares this gradual transformation to that of a glacier slowly carving out the landscape beneath it. "God made us in His image," she writes, "so that we can reveal His glory through our transformed lives."
Let's not continue to live under condemnation of a system that is being brought to an end and results only in our hardened minds and hearts. Let us live as those being daily transformed to wear the glory of the image of Christ in a new promise that even death will not put an end to.
It may even help us have patience in those permanent marker moments! Happy Mothers' Day!
Sarah Dixon Young is the author of "God on a Shelf," available on Amazon.