Live Your Dash
You know, everywhere you look you’ll find monuments to life. Every town, or city… along country roads, beside churches, or along highways. We sometimes call them “tombstones” or “headstones” - but regardless, they represent life... life lived. Life that’s ended.
And such monuments tend to develop type of character... a uniqueness... they tend to be a one-of-a-kind representation of the person’s life of whom they were placed in memory.
For example: Napoleon‘s monument to life, is huge... it looks like a cathedral or a state capitol building.
While, Winston Churchill‘s monument, is quite small... simple... even obscure in nature... at least compared to Napoleon’s.
In Washington, DC, you’ll find an eternal flame serving as the monument to John F. Kennedy’s life.
Mozart the great Composer/writer of music, his monument has actually been lost... we don’t even know what happened to his grave marker.
Each of these individuals lived very different lives, and each had a very different emphasis in living. But they also share something in common.
Because each tombstone, and every grave-marker I’ve ever seen, has one thing in common with every other tombstone, regardless to the shape of the size of the marker, or the person it represents. There’s one common characteristic that stands out on each one, and that’s the little dash between the dates.
There’s the date of birth, the date of death, and then there’s that little dash.
And I think it’s important for us to stop and think about that little dash for just a few moments.
That little dash represents the whole of that person‘s life. Maybe we need to hear that again! That little horizontal line – represents all the living that a person did between the day they were born, and the day they died. They lived during that dash!
Of course, we have a tendency to think of life is being long... at least while we’re young that is! The older we get the shorter life seems!
But regardless, we tend to think that we have plenty of time, after all, we have our whole life ahead of us!
Saturday, Mr. Cleave Barber of West Point celebrated his 100th birthday... Mr. Bill Addison, who was our neighbor here at the church for several years, is 102 (he’ll turn 103 in August)... And we think of someone who lives to be 100 as having lived a long life. But if you really stop and think about it, and you compare the longest life ever lived with eternity, it’s really just a dash.
So in reality that little horizontal line between the dates is quite adequate in summing up our existence.
Of course, we’re all different. We all have different lives and we all have different expectations when it comes to living life. We differ in our ideas and our ideologies but regardless, there still just a tiny, little dash representing our life on our tombstone.
We need to make the most of that time, don’t we?
We need to make sure we’re investing the limited time we’ve been given, wisely.
Our lesson from James reminds us that we don’t even “know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? It is a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.”
God's Word says our life is just a mist or a vapor, it’s here for a moment, and then it’s gone.
Of course, James wasn’t talking about the quality of life... he was talking about the quantity... the amount the time of life. We’re only here for a brief moment.
The Psalmist says our life is like a flower, it’s beautiful for day but then it’s withers. You and I need to make the most of this life this time that we are given on the earth. Life is too short to waste. Do you ever find yourself wasting time? Do you ever waste your time or things that don’t really matter? I know I do. And we surely have our choice of distractions today... things that help us to waste time. Everything from mind numbing television, to computers and cell-phones, to Facebook and Twitter: you name it... there are plenty of things around us to help us waste time.
While those distractions are sometimes necessary in this life, there’s nothing more important than tending to today. If there’s something you and God want you to do, you need to be doing it!
You know one day, like it or not, we’re going to wake up and realize “there goes the vapor.” So take the time now to live do something that is positive Christ, now while you have the time and why you have the opportunity.
Because, life is short, and the opportunity to live life is this now.
We don’t choose our time to die. We just don’t know when or how that’s going to happen, it’s not our business... it’s God‘s business. But we all know it’s coming, and God gives us the freedom and the wisdom to live life to the fullest, this moment... now!
That’s the one thing we have control over... we can choose how we live... and the opportunity for living the life we’ve been given, is right now.
So many people live life in the past. I have often referred to them as the “I remember when” people. It’s kinda sad when people seem to get so stuck in the past they have no idea what’s going on in the present!
I’ve known people to speak of the 40s and 50s like it was yesterday. They can’t seem to function without constantly looking backwards. They’re so dependent on the past that the future scares them to death.
They seem to dread the future and can’t seem to function without constantly looking backwards... all the time resisting change of any kind, even changes that are clearly for the better!
And the church is full of “I remember when people.” They say I remember when our church was growing... when our church was the largest in town... or back when we had a good preacher.
And don’t get me wrong, it’s great to remember with joy the accomplishments of the past, but the accomplishments and successes of yesterday should never be the focus of the present. What are we doing now about church attendance? What are we doing today about reaching people with the gospel of Jesus Christ?
Of course the church is also full of those who want to wait until tomorrow to tend to God’s business. They’re the “when I get around to it people.” They’re the people who say things like, “when I get my life right I’ll get more involved in the church.” Or “when I get enough money I’ll start tithing.” When I do this, I’ll do that! Some people are always putting off what they should be doing today... and to a certain degree we’re all guilty!
But know this, the only opportunity we have is now. Not yesterday, and not tomorrow, only now. This very moment is all we’re guaranteed.
John 10:10, Jesus said, “I have come that they might have life (COMMA), and that they might have it (present tense) more abundantly.”
We are all called to live life now! We have got to learn how to live life after the “comma” - Jesus didn’t just come for us to have life but for us to have full and abundant life at this present time, right now.
The fact of the matter is God has promised us life that’s worth living today. Ephesians 5:15-17 tells us, “see then that you walk rightly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Don’t be foolish in other words, God‘s word, not mine!
Because opportunity to live life is now! We need to make the most of the life God has given us because life is short... the opportunity to live life is now... and death is coming for us all.
The “dash of life” means there’s beginning date...and an ending date for all of our lives. In fact, Hebrews 9:27 tells us, “man is destined to die.” Did you hear that? Man is destined to die.
The fact is, one day each and everyone of us will take our last breath, it’s a fact. There’s no getting around it.
Of course, I hope that doesn’t frighten you! We’re all destined for that day. It’s a part of the process of life. And it’s coming, no matter how long we live or what we do to try and stop it. One day, the end of our dash will come.
And what lives on after we are gone won’t necessarily our name. I have trouble remembering names of people who are still alive!
And hear this too, our money won’t outlive us either. I guarantee, someone will get it, and they will spend it.
But I do know something that will survive long after we’re gone. And that something, is the personal investments that you and I make in the lives of other people in the name of Jesus Christ. The personal contributions we make to the kingdom of God will live on forever and forever.
God’s word tells us in Hebrews chapter 11:4, “now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen... By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain... and though he being dead, he still speaks.” It was because of Abel’s faith, that his actions outlived him.
And the only thing that will outlive us, are those personal contributions you and I make in the lives of others, in the name of Jesus. By faith those actions will continue on and on, long after our lives are over.
The fact is: Life is short, the opportunity for living life is now, and death is sure.
I wonder what the dash on your monument to life is going to stand for. I wonder what the dash on my monument the life is going to stand for?
If it sums up the entirety of our living, if it represents our whole life, what’s it going to represent?
Is it going to have any meaning at all, is it going to tell the world that we lived our life for Christ?
Or is it going to be a simple, little, horizontal line, etched in marble, that’ll be here for two maybe 300 years, before it too fades away?
Will it say I lived a godly life? Will it say I gave my all for my Savior and my God? Or will it will say, I wasted my life?
Let’s offer our lives... our whole lives... to Christ now, in this moment, and Christ will transform that dash of life into something eternal, he will transform it into a life that’s worth living!