Living the In-Between Life – The Dash on Our Tombstone
That dash on our tombstone – you know, the one that represents the life we lived between our start date and our end date? What we do during that time has eternal implications.
Mark Twain put it so aptly. “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”
The “why” has everything to do with the legacy we leave and the influence of our dash.
When I think back on my earlier days it feels like so much time was wasted on the mundane and insignificant. The activities of life that focused more on me than on what God had for me – those opportunities squandered that would have advanced my spiritual formation and preparedness for what God ultimately intended for my life. But I finally concluded that nothing was wasted. Even if it felt and looked like it was for naught, God used the “wasted years” to form me into the person I now am – more grounded in my relationship with Him and my identity secure in His purposes for me. The future may be difficult, easy, fun, challenging, or engaging but I’m eager to see what tomorrow brings. Better yet to see what today brings.
So much of what I learned in my early years oriented me towards works. If I served on enough committees, gave enough money, got perfect attendance in church, and a host of other to-do’s, I would be accepted by God. I misinterpreted scripture to be more about doing than being. Yes, we should want to serve Him – but not out of obligation or guilt – but out of love for Him and His people.
I’ve developed a relationship and an intimacy with Him which has brought me to a place where I want to yield control. My WHY, has become much more important than the WHAT or the HOW. The WHAT and the HOW come when I look for the fork in the road that points to love. Loving Him and loving others. That begins by yielding to His Spirit. I find much more fulfillment in this in-between life when my focus is on the God of Love, not the god of me.
Simon Sinek, best known for “Start with Why”, said this. “Fulfillment is deeper. Fulfillment lasts. The difference between happiness and fulfillment is the difference between liking something and loving something. We don’t necessarily like our kids all the time, for example, but we do love them all the time. We don’t necessarily find happiness in our jobs every day, but we can feel fulfilled by our work every day if it makes us feel part of something bigger than ourselves. Happiness comes from what we do. Fulfillment comes from why we do it.”
I agree in part. Fulfillment does come from why we do what we do. Happiness is never guaranteed. It comes in waves. Joy is the constant. As Christ followers, we can experience joy in knowing our ultimate fate. Eternal life. We can also experience joy in our everyday activities accentuated by the WHY. It’s all a matter of perspective. We were never promised a challenge-free life. After all, how fun would it be if everything went right all the time? Our dependence on God requires trials and difficulties. Watching Him come through for us is what matters most in building faith and relationship with Him, which then translates to loving others well.
Paul, the apostle, shares vital truths in Romans 8. 18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that[h] the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.
The best is yet to come, which is more fully described in Revelation 21 and 22. But in the meantime, as Paul said, we await the redemption of our bodies. Yet, living the in-between life requires much more than sitting on our hands, staring into the sky and waiting for Jesus to come back. It should be highlighted by an all-out pursuit of a life in Christ.
The pace of life, for all of us, is out of control. Finding time to sit quietly with the Lord, meditating on scripture, on Him, or on our calling is paramount to living out our faith. When we do that, this in-between life becomes much more fulfilling. We get to know the WHAT and the HOW from His vantage point, not ours. The WHY becomes easy. Because we’re His children. His favorite. He loves us, every single one of us!
The Dash – By Linda Ellis
I read of a man who stood to speak at a funeral of a friend. He referred to the dates on the tombstone from the beginning… to the end.
He noted that first came the date of birth and spoke of the following date with tears, but he said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years.
For that dash represents all the time they spent alive on earth and now only those who loved them know what that little line is worth.
For it matters not, how much we own, the cars… the house… the cash. What matters is how we live and love and how we spend our dash.
So think about this long and hard; are there things you’d like to change? For you never know how much time is left that still can be rearranged.
To be less quick to anger and show appreciation more and love the people in our lives like we’ve never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect and more often wear a smile… remembering that this special dash might only last a little while.
So when your eulogy is being read, with your life’s actions to rehash, would you be proud of the things they say about how you lived your dash?