Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, “I have no pleasure in them”: 2 While the sun and the light, the moon and the stars, are not darkened, and the clouds do not return after the rain;
3 In the day when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men bow down;… 6 Remember your Creator before the silver cord is loosed, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the well. 7 Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it. 8 “Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher, “All is vanity.”… 13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:
Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. 14 For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil. Ecclesiastes 12, selected verses
If you read yesterday’s article, you know my sister died this past week. It’s been a bit tougher than I thought it would be for all the reasons I listed yesterday. I re-read it today, and something struck me. Writing a basic summary of her life was a whole lot easier than her living it. She was an addict and lived very close to death for years.
It reminded me of something I heard when I was young. Maybe you’ve heard it too. It’s about the dash on the tombstone. Here lies Paula, 1964-2021. The dash was chiseled into the stone easily enough. Getting through it was a whole other thing.
Isn’t that true for us all? Figuratively speaking, your tombstone and mine have a starting year and a dash that grows in microns as we live and bring it to completion. The dash is filled with warmed hearts and broken ones; triumph, tragedy, and indifference.
You and I only ever see the dash. God sees everything that made it. At some point He’s going to want to talk with us about every bit of it.
Solomon is warning us about that in Ecclesiastes. He’s admonishing us to get tight with God while young and it’s easier. If we wait until we’re old, we might never get there. Build the foundation of that relationship before you’re too worn down to start on it. Don’t let the vanities, the foolishness of the world blind you to what really needs to be done. Those crazy things will vanish, leaving you with a moon and stars that give no light. Build your life on God before the days on earth make you too weary to find pleasure in them. Live a life, start to finish, that clings to God for satisfaction and pleasure.
Make your dash count for something more than just having been here.
How do we do that? Fear God and keep His commandments. What does that look like?
Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ Matthew 22:37
Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. James 1:27
My sister did none of this. Hers was a life of sorrows, bad mental health and a crack addiction. It was at times living on the streets with her small kids. But given all that, I know she was back in Jesus’ fold at the end. Despite a life not unspotted from the world, she was still washed clean in Jesus’ blood.
When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:25-26
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
So…the dash. How’s yours looking so far? Long or short? Something to be OK with or something you’ll have to answer for? A lot. For the good times, Jesus will say to you, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
For the bad times that will be brought to judgement, Jesus will take the punishment and wash you clean of every spot with His most loving blood. All it takes is saying “Yes” to Him while the dash is still alive!