For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. – Jeremiah 29:11
In Charles Schults’ Peanuts cartoon Charlie Brown and Snoopy are sitting on the dock looking out at the lake.
Charlie Brown says, “Some day, we will all die, Snoopy.”
“True,” says Snoopy, “but on all other days, we will not.”
When I married Fred 36 years ago he told me that he would probably die when he was 65 years old. That’s when his father died of cancer and Fred had a strong feeling that would happen to him as well. Now, 20 years later, he just celebrated his 85th birthday. He’s been through some difficulties with 13 fractures from Osteoporosis – the first two events happened when he was just 69. After years of pain we found a doctor who filled those fractures and strengthened his bones, although he suffered – and recovered – from a broken hip.
These days he gets around with a cane when he goes out but does pretty good at home without the help of anything. His walker has been in storage for a year! After years of pain medicine, he now takes no prescription drugs and he eats much better.
Fred had a wonderful birthday with two celebrations, the yearly visit from his niece, Kathy, who adores him, two favorite birthday meals, a celebration meal at our favorite restaurant, birthday cake with candles, homemade ice cream, wonderful cards from his children, pictures of great-grandchildren who live in Oklahoma, presents and more presents. Lots of candy. Every time we sing Happy Birthday, he joins in and sings to himself. He loves to read and tells the stories to Kathy as if those characters in the books are real people. He remembers all the names. He has her look up people from his childhood. He tells stories from the past – like when he and a neighbor girl got married in the backyard as children. He has a crazy sense of humor. He has no inhibitions about what people think about him. He does not have a Facebook page but when I post pictures of him on my page, he always gets an average of 100 likes from people we have known in many places over the years. Fred lives and enjoys life as much as he can!
“Someday we will all die … but on all other days, we will not.”
In other words, we are alive. We have been given life by our Creator – a loving God who has a vision of what our life can be; of purpose and joy; of how we can do good; how we can make a difference while we are here on earth. We might guess at how many days we have in the Book of Life, but only our Creator knows the real number.
Most of us have heard or read the poem The Dash, written by Linda Ellis:
I read of a man who stood to speak at the 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?
By Linda Ellis, Copyright © 2020 Inspire Kindness, thedashpoem.com
What we do in our life makes a difference. We can be a good influence for our children and grandchildren. We can exemplify our faith by living it and teaching it. We can show grace when others hurt us and we can humbly ask for forgiveness when we have hurt others – and we will because we are human. And Charlie Brown is right – some day we will die. But – then we will live again with our Creator, a loving God who made sure we can have life eternal with Him, through Jesus, who died for us, who poured out love and grace and forgives on an old rugged cross, who was resurrected from the dead, giving us that great assurance that we too shall rise.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” John 3:16
Live the dash well. And believe in the One who gives us life after the dash.
Peace and Grace!