It was my son’s second year of preschool, and he was happy to be there three mornings each week. By then he had a group of buddies who enjoyed playing together in the classroom and at each other’s homes; he was comfortable with the routine and liked his teacher. He was confident in his own little preschool world. One morning, my son and I were waiting in line in the hall for the teacher to open the classroom door at the designated time. Checking my watch, I gave him my usual goodbye kiss just before the door opened. But this day, my son stood with his back against the wall as other students filed past him into the classroom. “What’s wrong?” I asked. But his reply was something mumbled while looking at the ground. Concerned about this unusual behavior, I bent down to his eye level holding his little sister on my hip and asked, “What’s the matter, honey?” He motioned to his face and said, “Do I have lipstick on me?” He didn’t want to go into his preschool world with the mark of one kissed by mom (what with preschooler independence and all).
This got me thinking about what mark I bear when I go into the world. I am reminded of Cain and Abel’s story recounted in chapter 4 of Genesis. Toward the end of this woeful tale, God punishes Cain severely for murdering his brother, Abel. Cain pleads with the Lord “…I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” The Lord responds by putting a mark on Cain so that no one who finds him will kill him (Genesis 4:15). Such a mark served as a warning for anyone who might try to harm him. In the book of Revelation, the Bible refers to angels putting the seal of the living God on the foreheads of God’s servants in order to identify them and set them apart. When others look at my heart and my actions, do they see the mark of the Lord on my life? Or am I like an embarrassed preschooler hoping the mark of my Christianity doesn’t show, or at least won’t set me apart?
If you have tried camouflaging your faith to blend in with your surroundings, you already know, as I do, that it never ends well. I keep quiet when I should speak up, and I speak words I may later regret. But we can learn and grow from these unfortunate experiences. We can do better next time. Jesus instructs us “let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) You see it’s not about us. It’s about pointing people to God. Every day I have a decision to make; am I going to let my discomfort get in the way of introducing people to my God through my words, attitude, and actions? When I keep that end game in mind, it can help me get over myself and get on with living as one marked by the seal of the living God.