Mr Eternity: The Story of Arthur Stace
Arthur Stace wasn’t able to use his youth to serve Christ (he became a Christian at 45), but he certainly used his middle and old age. At a stage in life when many of us may be tempted to take the foot off the peddle in our service of God and others, by God’s strength, he was just getting started.
The final chapters (16-19) of Mr Eternity look at Stace’s twilight years, from going public about being the infamous chalker, right through to his passing at age 83. Chapter 20 then lists the many ways his story has been told since his death. As the epilogue notes, sadly Arthur ‘would surely be disappointed that his fundamentally religious message has so often been watered down and reinterpreted’ (p238).
When I started this book, you may recall I had three goals...
One - Put some flesh on the bones of a man who I only really know for that one word.
Two - Work out if it could be a give-a-away kind of book to gently raise ideas of eternity, Christian witness and the difference Jesus makes.
Three - Learn something of the Stace single-mindedness and stickability which enabled him to keep writing that word Eternity day after day, chalk stick after chalk stick, for 30 years.
How did I go?
Well, regarding goal one -TICK! I genuinely knew very little of this guy. What struck me the most is that his chalk ministry was just one slice of a life which was brimming with Christian service and gospel preaching. Before this book I thought he was much more of a one-trick pony, if you know what I mean. But nooooo, there was much much more to Mr Stace. The insights into the lives of his mentors, particularly Ridley and Hammond were an added (and just wonderful!) bonus.
Goal two? TICK! This book is clearly trying to write from a Christian point of view, about various Christian things but for an anybody-audience. I think they pull it off. They don’t obscure or hide what Arthur would have thought or meant as a Christian but they don’t presume everybody thinks that as well. Yes the book slows and perhaps wanders a little more in the second half, but it contains several helpful and clear explanations of the gospel and is just brimming with grounded examples of the difference Jesus makes to life.
Goal three? TICK! Surely the secret to Arthur Stace’s stickability was not his willpower or some strange obsession. The rest of his life and history undo that idea. The reason was his friendship with the true Mr Eternity. The man who had paid his price, worn his shame, washed him as new and changed his eternal destiny. Jesus Christ. He is the true Mr Eternity, and Arthur knew it. That’s why he wrote that word again and again. Because as he heard the bible taught, he saw clearly that eternity was inevitable and that Jesus had given him a new one. Jesus had gifted him an eternity he didn’t deserve and that offer was open to every single person who would walk over every piece of pavement he wrote on. Every single one.
Isn’t that democracy in beautiful action.
So, in honour of Mr Stace, tomorrow I’m planning on doing a bit of chalking myself. Why don’t you join me?
*I couldn’t finish this blog without plugging Colin Buchanan’s song, Eternity (Arthur Stace). Listen to it here. There’s one historical inaccuracy (that Arthur could barely write his name), but otherwise it’s just great and for me at least, having just finished the book, a bit of a tear-jerker.
Meet Annabel Nixey Annabel was born and bred in Sydney, but now lives in Canberra. She loves teaching women from the Bible. Her favourite genres are: for movies - period dramas, for books - biographies and for coffee - tea.