“The Dash of Life”
August 27, 2012
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“The Dash of Life”
Donegal Presbyterian Church is about a mile from our home and was “gathered before 1730″. It’s a dignified structure with box seating in a country setting. Their first structure was made of logs, the first log cabin church built in America, before it burned to the ground. The grounds and gardens are beautiful and include an active spring that also serves as a trout stream.
The cemetery in front of the church contains the physical remains of the deceased going back to the 1700′s. We walked through the cemetery this morning observing statements of faith inscribed on the tombstones.
One was the tombstone of Rev. Nehemiah Dodge who lived about 200 years ago. He was the founder and principal of Cedar Hill Girl’s School near Mount Joy, and an inscription was posted on his gravestone by pupils in appreciation for his noble life work: “He opened his mouth with wisdom and on his tongue was the law of kindness.” His spiritual qualities were then summed up by one word, “faithful!” I took a photo of the tombstone but it is so weathered it’s very hard to read.
I often allude to the fact that the Christian life is like a marathon requiring perseverance. But life is also like a dash, the sense of a quick run, as life goes by so very quickly. As the Apostle James observed, “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14).
Many of you watched the Olympics earlier this month and among the many events were fast, short races known as “dashes”. The shortest one (100 meter) takes less than 10 seconds to run. A tremendous commitment along with intense training is required, in addition to God-given talent, for one to excel in a race like this.
But the dash I am referring to in today’s perspective is the punctuation mark on most tombstones. Tombstones typically record the year of birth followed by the year of death. * What separates these two notable years on the stone? A small dash representing the entirety of one’s life. What you do with your “dash” will determine your eternal destiny, and whether or not you will truly “Rest In Peace”.
That short punctuation mark represents the life we live on this earth. And God has given each of the redeemed a fundamental task in life. Like the apostle Paul, we all have “the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace”. We are certainly called with various specific giftings. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ you, like Paul, are called to testify to the Gospel of God’s grace. Like Nehemiah Dodge, let us be faithful!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, Your grace abounds like a fountain that never exhausts its flow. We testify to the gospel of Your grace as it overflows into every area of our being. It refreshes, forgives, ignites, strengthens, fortifies, and sets our hearts ablaze with the fire of the Holy Spirit. Where would we be and what would our future hold without Your amazing grace? We shudder to imagine life without Your ever-present, all-sufficient grace. We proclaim to all the world that Your grace is available to all who call upon the name of Jesus. It is in His name that we pray. Amen.
*Older tombstones tended to record the date of birth and death and many also recorded the number of years, months and days the person lived.
Another old tombstone of a minister of the gospel expressed faith this way. At the time of his death it stated “entered into life”. How very true!
Ryan Zook, a student intern from Lancaster Bible College, preached in our church yesterday. His text was from James 1 and he challenged us to be doers of the Word and not hearers only. I like the summarized challenge at the end of his message from James 1:25: “But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it – he will be blessed in what he does.”
Action through the word requires:
- Attention – “But the man who looks intently into the perfect law” (Bible)
- Perseverance – “…continues to do this”
- Memorization – “…not forgetting what he has heard”
Upon further consideration of the text we see two more points:
- Obedience – “…but doing it”
- Blessed Result - “He will be blessed in what he does.”
Let me try to draw a picture: The children live rather simply in a large old farmhouse w/o electricity or many other modern features we take for granted. They enjoy walking through our home curious about different stuff. On the way home yesterday afternoon I heard the kids ask their mom a question in PA Dutch? Anna interpreted, “The children would listen to music on the radio”. “What kind?” I asked. “Church music” was their enthused reply. Our newer van has a sound system with two sets of headphones in the back seats. The children had quite a time putting them on and sharing them with each another. Their broad smiles were priceless even though the music is not even set up to play through the headphones!!!
Tom, their mother Winnie, and Fred. It’s a pleasure to see the children of residents attend the church service with them. These guys can sure sing out on a hymn which surely blesses their mom.
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