God moves in unexpected ways through minor events. While we dined in a Palm Springs restaurant, I spotted three paintings of local scenes on the opposite wall. One colorful pic intrigued me, so I consulted our waiter. He knew it was close, maybe 40 miles away, at Slab City, an abandoned military fort where snowbirds and unreconstructed hippies and artists roamed. That pretty much exhausted his knowledge. A little research revealed the name, Salvation Mountain, and directions and distance—about 80 miles. Even so, we took off one afternoon to visit Niland, a very small town on the east side of the Salton Sea, in search of Salvation Mountain, the subject of that painting, one similar to the first pic here.
What we discovered amazed me. Leonard Knight was born in Vermont in 1931, and kind of bummed around. He fought in the Korean War, painted cars, worked as a mechanic, and traveled from Vermont to San Diego and back and back. While visiting his sister Irene in San Diego in 1967, she kept telling him about Jesus so to escape her he went out to sit in his van. Without knowing why, he began repeated, “Jesus, I’m a sinner, please come upon my body and into my heart.”
While he found a purpose—to tell people about Jesus--he still wandered and held odd jobs until he found himself in Slab City in 1984. Before pulling out, he decided to take a week to build a small monument. He never left. It grew, as he formed local adobe clay and straw into shapes, and then painted them with over 100,000 gallons of donated paint. He worked on Salvation Mountain until he couldn’t, in 2010. He then lived in a nearby hospice until 2014, but the Mount goes on. About 50 ft. high and 150 ft. wide. Vivid. A clear expression of God’s love and our need to repent and to know him.
I admire Knight. A humble man, with little education and less desire for it. No great talents, just a passion for God and perseverance. Several of his big dreams failed. Most of all, he left a legacy of God’s love. A legacy that reveals his values, a legacy that gives others the story of God’s love. Pretty good, isn’t it?
Kick Starting the Application
Let’s think a bit about our legacies. What do we leave behind for others? What are some good things? What are some things that need healing for our legacy to reach its best? What hints might God be giving you, right now, of what you can yet add to your legacy?
PS If you want to learn more, here’s the website: http://www.salvationmountain.us/