I’ve heard it several times lately, so it’s hard to ignore. It’s got me thinking.
I was watching the sitcom “The Middle” (a rerun) the other day, and Mike (the Dad) had to give a speech at his brother’s wedding. He made reference to tombstones… and what the dash between the years meant. That part stands for the life you led, and that little dash is the most important part. It represents your character, the way you treated people, and where your heart truly was…..
My amazing across-the-street neighbor just passed away early in the morning the day after Easter. I went to his Homegoing Celebration ceremony the following Saturday at Victory Christian Center, Charlotte, NC. The Pastor mentioned this dash that symbolized the life that Mr. Taylor lived… almost 71 years worth of life and love. The speeches and outpouring of love for the life Mr. James Taylor lived were precious and inspiring.
This is the first time I’ve been challenged to think about that “dash.” This is the first time I’ve heard it. Maybe it’s cliche to you and you’ve heard it many times. But, is it really? When you REALLY stop to think about that tiny – you begin to ponder what kind of an impact your life will have.
Surely you’ve thought about it. I have. I have thought about it in great times when I am really pleased with what I’ve done with the opportunities God has given to me, and I think about it in the times of self-pity when I wonder if anyone would even notice if I was gone. The older you get, the more real life and death become. The more it happens around you, and the more you notice your own aging body. Death is in fact, a part of life. And we expect it to come….sometime down the line.
But sometimes that young person you know is suddenly gone one day. You never thought they would be gone so soon. Did they know how much you loved them? Why didn’t they get the chance to live a longer and fuller life? What about that scholarship they were going to receive and the impact they would make? WHY, WHY were they taken so soon?
These are the questions only God knows. Many times we see the working for good that comes from a tragedy like this, but other times we don’t. It remains a mystery. These are the times we really wrestle with our faith. And that is okay.
But back to that dash.
My cousin James passed away before his 18th birthday. Big strapping athletic young man with a bright future ahead. And one night, he was gone in his sleep. ABSOLUTE SHOCK and DEVASTATION. His friends and loved ones rallied around his family. The outpouring of love for James to his family was, and still is overwhelming and inspiring, even four years later. Grasping for a purpose could never outweigh the shock, but it stood for something. In less than 18 years James had done so much with his dash that the impact was, and still is, nothing short of phenomenal.
He loved Jesus and he loved people. That is the greatest commandment after all. All the errands and activities and “things” we pack into our lives won’t matter…but the way we showed the loved of Jesus to everyone we contact, will. That is what will last. Whether we have 18 years or 70 years (give or take) on this planet, our charge is to live life to the fullest and to LOVE.
We are not promised tomorrow. We must live each day as if it could be our last.
My cousin James was known by his nickname…. JAMES “1:12” FRENCH, because he stood the test.
James 1:12 NIV “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”
I can only hope to have my friends and family assign me a new alias that is in reference to such a Scripture. James stood the test. And his life continues to touch hundreds of other lives day after day because he lived his “dash” to the fullest. Let us all aspire to that.
I want everyone I know to stand one day to testify that my dash was well spent. But even greater than that, when I stand before The Lord on that final day of judgment, I want to hear Him say, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”
Think about it.
What will you do with your dash?
In loving memory of:
James French, May 4, 1992 – February 19, 2010 and
James Taylor, July 11, 1943 – April 21, 2014