Years ago I was speaking in Elyria, Ohio, but stayed with a family who lived a few miles south in Oberlin where Oberlin University is located.
Doing the course of my visit, I mentioned that one of our early ministers, David Marks, had attended this school and that his funeral had been preached by the famous lawyer, turned preacher, Charles Finney.
I could hardly finish my remarks when the lady of the house broke into excitement and blurred out with, “I care for the children of some of the professors at the college and oftentimes we will walk across the golf course into an old, old, cemetery where I read the eulogies on the head stones. Recently, I ran across the stone of David Marks which contained things about his connection with our denomination. I believe it was in section …, and then she said I just can’t remember for sure.” While continuing her remarks she gave me two sections, but still with uncertainty.
Well, the next day after visiting the library at the college, I found many historical items of my denomination in their archives, including a biography of Rev. Marks written by his wife. Then I made my way to the cemetery and ,after an hour or so, I found a headstone that had been placed there by someone during this century, but noticed the original marker laying flat in the ground and the wording destroyed by time.
The next day I was back at the library and found the biography had recorded what it said. It recorded his length of life (1805-1845).
At fifteen years of age he received strong impressions to enter the ministry. His father needed his help, but finally consented to what seemed the call of God. The “Boy Preacher,” less than sixteen years of age, left home with his father’s blessing.
In order to improve his education, he set out on foot for Providence, R. I. He walked 368 miles. Arriving at Brown University, he was told that tuition would be furnished free, but no further assistance towards board or clothing could be rendered, so with a sad heart he walked back home. Later, he goes to Oberlin, Ohio and completes an education there and gains the attention of Charles Finney who in his sermon at Marks funeral says, “There is not greater among his denomination.”
David Marks had one vision and focus - to reach a better land and have a better life.
As we travel through life, making a fortune or better name is high on our list, but ironically the greatest thing we can do is to not only make a life, and to help others do the same.
“The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life. “
“One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple. “