Yesterday was the 91st birthday of my mother's father. He was named after his father, and several of his descendants also bear the name Benjamin, "son of the right hand." I am proud to be one of them! Benjamin Russell Markley, Jr. is to me, and others of his kith and kin, a tremendous blessing; a peaceful hero; a quiet servant who thinks little of himself, and pours out for others; a walker with God. He is a man who has lived a strenuous life, intensely given to God and family. His life has been a testimony of God's faithfulness. This man exudes with dedication to the Gospel of Jesus Christ! He embodies, truth, humility, and love in action--incorrigible in his desire to be there for people in need.
When I think of my grandfather,
I see what the proverbs call "the hand of the diligent" (Proverbs 10:4; 12:22).
Hands that are brown from both Cherokee blood and work in the sun, scarred and calloused from laboring for others, aged but still surprisingly strong.
Those hands that worked machinery, that seemed to handle every tool with ease and dexterity, that tousled my hair, that lifted me onto the telephone books on the chair at the table, that handed me my first rubberband gun, that he used when telling a story, that led singing with great animation, that provided for his family, that tenderly held his wife throughout life, and that carried his Bible with care and familiarity. Those hands upon my little shoulders. Those hands that he would raise, both of them, whenever he was waving good-bye as we drove away.
Grandpa was one of the men who taught me to "fear God and work hard," as David Livingstone said. Those hands were ever available to aid his neighbors, and just about everyone WAS his neighbor. I hardly remember a visit as a child, that Grandpa didn't put me in his old green truck to help him pick up sticks, or rake someone's yard, or cut wood, etc., for others in need. Even just a few weeks ago He proved this to be true during clean up at a family reunion. When somebody mentioned taking some chairs to a pickup truck Grandpa beat me to the remaining chairs, taking FOUR of them, leaving me with ONE!
When I think of my grandfather,
I see what the proverbs call the "light of the eyes" (Proverbs 15:30)
Eyes that I have seen light up with humor, shine while teaching the Scriptures, blur with emotion about those he loves, grow firm with chastening and correction, darken with indignation at injustice, and soften with manly gentleness. His eyes always were in harmony with his voice, and as a child, I love looking into those Cherokee Brown eyes that mirrored my own. Grandpa's eyes had a way of looking into yours, a manner about him that set one at ease, but commanded honesty.
One word that well describes Grandpa Markley is meekness. Meekness is NOT weakness. It is strength under control. A wild stallion has great strength, but it does not aid mankind unless it yields control to someone else. Grandpa's strength was harnessed by the Lord Jesus Christ, and he willingly submitted to his Master, to give to the Lord and others, and continues in the same spirit today.
I cherish his story-telling. How I loved to hear of our ancestors--Cherokees, homesteaders, blacksmiths, and circuit riding preachers among them. The adventures they had, and the challenges they overcame! There were lessons to be learned from their lives, and warnings too. And I wish that I knew more. One of the most treasured accounts he told me was how he got saved, as a boy of 12, and how God propelled him from salvation to service in teaching and preaching very quickly. How he learned to love and study the Bible, and invest in the lives of the rowdy boys he taught in Sunday School as a youth of 16.
Grandpa delights in the Lord, and in his family, and especially in seeing his descendants following the Lord in their lives! I am always intensely moved when this great man in my life, one whom I greatly esteem, comes up to me and humbly takes my hand in his, grips it firmly, looks me in the eye and tells me he is grateful for me, and prays for me and my family, and the way the Lord is leading us. He prays for all his household, and like Mordecai, can be described as "speaking peace to all his seed" (Esther 10:3). Brethren, let us each not only take the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour, but may we each walk with the Lord in the light of His word. May we not neglect to pass on the heritage we have received. "Let us not remove the ancient landmarks which our fathers have set" (Proverbs 22:28).
There are so many memories that I didn't mention. Any one else who is of the ranks of family and friends of Ben Markley, I am sure, have stories, remembrances, and such of their own are welcome to comment to add them for the benefit of all who read.
Suffice it for me to say, I am grateful for my Grandpa Markley. He's Ben. He's "Ben" Grandpa all my life. And I love him.