I went to the King Tut exhibit at Seattle’s Pacific Science Center recently. I had the pleasure of joining my wife and daughter along with a good-sized group of students from Ellensburg Christian School. I was assigned to the two most energetic boys in the upper grades–a worthy challenge.
As we stood outside the large metal doors, I envisioned the exotic, glimmering works of art waiting in the next room. As an Indiana Jones/National Treasure fan, I was stoked.
The hall opened to an iconic cobra-hooded, blank-staring statue encircled by invaluable treasures along the walls. I had stopped to read the descriptive plaque in front of the stone sentinel when I realized the boys were no longer near me. I scanned the room and didn’t spot them. Where are…? Seriously? Already? Precious artifacts or not, those princes could not go missing on my watch.
I found them in the second room on their way to the third. They had quantum leaped through about a thousand years-worth of artifacts in seconds. “Guys, did you see that cat casket back there?” I asked, groping for anything that might slow them down.
“Two rooms back.”
They followed my lead to their disappointment since there was neither a dead mummy cat, nor petrified poo. Looking up at yet another gold-encrusted artifact, they said, “These are all replicas, right?” I smacked my forehead as they quickly went on to the next room.
We power walked through the joint and made a lot of security officers nervous. I kid you not, we spent more time in the gift shop than the entire exhibit.
In a room right before the exit were the remains of an ancient Egyptian king. Finally- a dead body. Though not as gory as they would have liked (it looked like a skeleton shrink-wrapped in a Glad sack), it held the boys’ attention until the other students started catching up to us on their way to daylight and lunch.
That’s when the message of Pharaoh’s life began speaking to me.
Pharaoh had everything: he was the ultimate ruler of all he surveyed, had riches beyond compare, and glorious buildings constructed in his honor. He was deity. Anything you could consider successful, he had it to the highest degree.
Peasants like us would not survive entering his presence unless he requested it. In contrast, we had gotten a group discount to ogle his naked corpse and crumbling treasures. The god-man was right before us and he could scarcely command the attention of eleven-year-old boys.
It pierced me. How do I define success and importance? What hope do I labor and strive for?
Pharaoh whispered a warning: you can accomplish the utmost in your lifetime and wind up as a spectacle that sells postcards and funny foam hats to tourists when you’re gone.