Welcome to episode 8 of Messin’ with Mark, God’s sitcom!
For those of you who are unfamiliar with this series, let me tell you how it started . . .
When I was very young, Jesus was walking around in His heavenly area up there when he saw his Dad looking down through the clouds, laughing His head off. Curious, he walked over and asked, “What’s up, Pop?”
“Oh, just pranking that Mark kid again,” He replied.
“Again?” Jesus asked, “Why are You always picking on him?”
“I don’t know. There’s just something about him,” God said. “I mean, look at his face right now.”
Jesus looked down and started to chuckle, then stopped Himself. “Okay, I admit it’s kind of funny, but this is wrong. I mean, You created him. With all due respect, what kind of an example are you setting for the angels? We’re supposed to love and protect humanity, not single one out from all the rest for humiliation.”
God thought for a moment, then looked at Jesus and said, “You’re right. I should stop.” They looked at each other seriously, then said, “Naaaaaaaahhh” and laughed some more.
Jesus suggested that he make a regular show of his pranks on me. They named it Messin’ with Mark.
Remember Rodney Dangerfield’s bit about getting “no respect” from humans? It’s kind of like that, but on a cosmic level.
So, to today’s episode – The Lost Key. God really pulled out all the stops this time.
About ten years ago, my wife and I took a trip to the Grand Canyon in Arizona. I don’t like to carry all my keys in my pocket during a hike so I took the car key off and left the rest in the car. We came back and I put the key somewhere in the car without reattaching it to the keyring. We made a fire, roasted some weenies and marshmallows, and went to sleep in the back of the SUV.
The next morning, we were cleaning up our campsite when I saw a magpie inside my car. It was the only time I had ever seen a bird of any kind inside the car. I walked over and it flew away. When we got in the car to go home, I couldn’t find the key. We searched and searched, even emptying out the car completely, but it was GONE.
Then it dawned on me. The magpie must have taken it. After all, they are notorious for stealing shiny things and decorating their nests with them. Keys are shiny. Ergo, the magpie was the culprit! It made perfect sense to me.
So, cursing the magpie, I set out in search of its nest, imagining it looked something like this.
The next problem: As everyone knows, the Grand Canyon is a little on the large side. Nineteen hundred and two square miles large, so I didn’t like my chances of actually finding a particular nest belonging to a particular magpie in a particular tree in all that space, but what other choice did I have?
Here’s where I was looking –
My wife was not encouraging. She said, “Are you crazy? You’ll never find it! The Grand Canyon is the biggest hole on earth!” I resisted the urge to give the obvious sarcastic response and marched purposefully onward until her derisive laughter faded in the distance.
I struggled to maintain hope as I searched dozens of trees and tracked every singing bird. The old “needle in a haystack” metaphor came to mind.
But, oh, how glorious my victory would be when I snatched the missing key from the magpie’s nest!
After two hours of searching and the onset of hypothermia, I finally gave up and returned to the car to find my wife, the only sensible one in our group of two, relaxing in a lawn chair, sipping a cool drink and wondering why she married me.
The next challenge was figuring out how to get a new key made. Jesus must have told God to have a little pity on me because another family came through the campsite. They said they were on their way to town. I asked them to send a locksmith out. They promised they would. Five hours later, he showed up. Because of how far away we were, he charged me approximately nineteen times the normal amount for making a new key. The expression on my face when he said the price surely fetched big laughs up in heaven.
The next day, back in civilization, we stopped at A&W Root Beer for lunch. I pulled out the recessed cup holder in my dashboard and the key was sitting right there. Imagine my chagrin. It was the ONLY place we didn’t look. And guess who put it there? My wife! We were actually both to blame because I had pushed the cup holder back in without noticing the key. I got out of the car, looked up at the uncaring sky, fell to my knees, raised my hands and screamed, “Whyyyyyyyy???”
It was sort of like what tennis players do when they make a game-winning shot, except without the happiness.
This was the climax of the show, the point where God, Jesus and their heavenly host of angels all laughed their holy tookus’s off. They laughed so hard, feathers shaken out of their wings rained down all over Arizona.
The only “residuals” I receive as the star of this show has been the residual embarrassment of my wife retelling this story at multiple parties and gatherings in the ten years since it happened.
Nicely played, God. Nicely played.