Do We Look Beyond The Mark?


This past weekend found me at the local Verizon phone store resolving problems with my new phone.  I spent several hours in the store.  I spent most of the time standing off to the side and learning up against a wall while a clerk determined and then fixed the problem. I had close to two hours to observe people as they came and went. I made an observation that was a bit comical. The store has two sets of clear double door by which to enter and exit. The doors I was standing close too were marked with big letters, “Please use other door to enter”. The letters were big and bright red. However, despite the sign almost all the people came and tugged on the locked doors. They would yank and pull a couple of times, then scowl, back up, notice the sign and move on the extra twenty five feet to the “approved” entrance. It became a game to me to watch someone approaching, and guess if they would “yank” on the locked doors. One man even ran his face into the door as he hurried to open the “locked” doors.  I thought as I watched that I was no different. Despite the “big red sign”, I had done the exact same thing earlier. You would have thought that we couldn’t read! The question was, “Why had we done it?”. The answer was that we had “looked past the mark! We had all been so concerned about getting “service” that we had looked past the “big red sign”. To our embarrassment we found ourselves momentarily stopped and looking a bit foolish.

The Jews were caught “looking past the mark” when they rejected Jesus as the Christ. Jacob wrote, “But behold, the Jews were a stiffnecked people; and they despised the words of plainness, and killed the prophets, and sought for things that they could not understand. Wherefore, because of their blindness, which blindness came by looking beyond the mark, they must needs fall; for God hath taken away his plainness from them, and delivered unto them many things which they cannot understand, because they desired it…” (Jacob 4:14).

The Jew were so focused on the future and it’s possibilities that they looked right past the “big red signs”, which testified that Jesus was the Christ. The Jews are still looking today for an event that happened more than 2000 years ago. Perhaps we are not “looking past the mark” regarding that issue, but too often we are guilty of the same thing in other aspects of our lives. Several years ago Elder F. Burton Howard gave a talk about his time as a student.

“I remember what it is like to attend the university… I remember the relief when the books closed for the last time, and the diplomas were finally awarded. I remember thinking that at last I could get on with the real business of living.

The university was for me as it is for most students, a time of waiting—and therein lies a danger. Everything a student does seems pointed to the future. Students are transients. Their hearts are often elsewhere. Summer jobs, lectures, credits—all of these promise a time when prosperity and peace will finally reign—when they can come home after work to a real home and do what they want; when one well-paying job will allow enjoyment of the important things like marriage or family or church service…So it is that college students, and others as well, often look beyond the mark. Because much of what they live for lies in the future, young people sometimes forget that the real test is never tomorrow but always today.  (F. Burton Howard, “On Giving and Getting,” New Era, Oct 1985, 44).

Let us be careful and get so caught up in what lies ahead that we don’t live for the day. Time will continue onward, we cannot stop it. But let us live for the day. Tomorrow we may live somewhere else or we may have a different calling or job. We may get that new house we so desire, or car that seems so important. Or, we may not be here at all, but find ourselves laboring on the other side of the veil. We must not “look beyond the mark”, or we might experience the pain that comes from running into a locked door.


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