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The Importance of the Dash!

April 1 is my mom and dad’s wedding anniversary (no joke). If they were living in 2021, I believe that this would have been their 87th anniversary. I can remember my grandparents celebrating their 50th anniversary (later they made it to 61). The celebration took place at my parents’ house. I was young enough that it made a big impression on me. Lots of people came to our house and brought gifts wrapped in gold paper with gold ribbons. There was a special cake served to all and people took pictures of my grandma and grandpa.

Because people were celebrating meant that it was a big deal. Later, I noticed that couples celebrating 50 years or more had their pictures in the newspaper (remember newspapers?). That reinforced the idea that 50 years was a long time.

Longevity seems to run on that side of the family. My mom lived to be 96. Of her 12 siblings 5 lived to be over 90 and one lived to be 100 and six months. She died about a month ago. They also had two aunts who lived past the 100-year mark.

My mom and dad also celebrated over 60 years of marriage. After my dad went to glory, I would try to call my mom on those “special days” of hers to let her know that I had not forgotten. No one wants to be forgotten. The purpose of headstones at cemeteries is for the purpose of helping people not forget. Once I called her on what would have been her 65th wedding anniversary. During the conversation, I said, “65 years is a long time.” To which she tersely replied, “No, it isn’t!”

Thankfully, my mind worked fast enough to process her information rather quickly and I said, “You are right! Looking forward 65 years is a long time but looking backward it is a truly short number of years.”

As a child, I thought that people who were 50 years old were OLD! Since going past that by half again I no longer think it old. In fact, I do not think that my 76 trips around the sun makes me old at all. That designation is just in other people’s minds.

Time is an invention of God for man. God does not live-in time. He lives in eternity.

The writer of Ecclesiastes (3) tells us that there is a time for everything. You know the passage, but perhaps this would be a good time to refamiliarize yourself with it.

Another passage from Solomon dealing with time is Ecclesiastes 9:12 where the writer says, “man does not know his time.” We do not know how much time we have on this earth. Often it is said, “He died so young!” “I can’t believe that he is gone. He had so much for which to live.” And then there is that classic statement of ignorance, “The good die young.”

Psalm 103:15-16 (ESV); “As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.”

1 Peter 1:24-25 (ESV); “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever. And this word is the good news that was preached to you.”

You have been to the cemetery and have seen the scores of grave markers in neat lines. Besides the name of the buried person are usually found the date of birth and the date of death. Often those dates are separated by a dash (-). That dash really represents the life of the person buried there. It stands for the time between the birth of the person and his/her death. The entire life of the person is represented by a -. It does not tell what a person did or what that person believed.

The last part of my mother’s life was spent living at Mason Christian Village, in Mason, Ohio. It is a beautiful place with excellent caregivers. I have known many Christians who lived their final days there. Once, when I was visiting my mom, I looked over and saw a young caregiver gently steering a wheelchair with a man I had known for most of my life. When I first met him, he was President of a Bible college and well-known and respected in our brotherhood. But now he was suffering the ravages of time and could not communicate, nor did he know those around him.

I watched him and the young caretaker as she pushed his chair to a place she thought best for him and then went off on another errand. She was doing her best, but she was oblivious to who this grand saint had been and what he had accomplished. The accomplished part of his – went unknown to her, but not to God.

We live and flourish but eventually like grass we wither, and the wind passes over and our place is gone. Both David and Peter agree with the brevity of life. Peter contrasts our brief life with God’s Word that “remains forever.”

I know of two grave markers that have much in common. Both belong to women. The ladies probably did not know each other on this side of glory. One is buried in a rural area of Oklahoma and the other in a rural area of Ohio. Both died, most would agree, young. Both served the Lord Jesus with the brief life each had. Their markers have their name, their birth date, and the day of their death. They also have that little – between birth and death dates. So far, everything about those markers is different except for the – (dash). But then there is the same quote that served both as a motto for their – (dash). “Only one life will soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.”

As Peter said, “but the word of the Lord remains forever. And this word is the good news that was preached to you.”

People will forget us after awhile but God’s Word and what it has done will always remain. That is why we need to promote God’s Word instead of ourselves. That will make that – (dash) important for all eternity!

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3 replies on “The Importance of the Dash!”

Brother, that was a great commentary on life, the brevity of it and our legacy. Keep on with what you’re doing because some of us appreciate it.

Thanks for leaving these up. I’m a new subscriber and so wonderful to get to read these even if they are year(s) old. I hope to read this to my 93-year-old aunt.

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