The first time I heard The Dash poem by Linda Ellis was at the funeral service of a young lady in her twenties. L. (the deceased) had been fond of the poem. One of her favorite things to say was: “What’s in your dash?”
Based on the testimonies of those who knew her well, you could tell that L. had lived her life intentionally. She wanted to make her dash count.
It got me thinking: “What’s in my dash? Am I living life on purpose and with purpose?” Too many times it’s easy to get caught up in checking things off the to-do list:
Did I read my Bible? Check.
Kiss the family. Check.
Had sex with the husband. Check.
But are we actually enjoying the limited amount of time we’ve been given on this earth? Are we present in the present? Or are we too busy reliving the past or worrying about the future? Or worst, are we too busy in virtual land – living a life among things and people that don’t exist?
There are a number of people that we talk about years after their death: Bob Marley, Michael Jackson, Mother Teresa, Princess Diana, Steven Covey, Gandhi … each of these persons left a mark on many people for various reasons. Invariably, as we dig a little beneath the surface of their lives, we discover things that make these legends a little less legendary.
We learn things about them that cause us to wonder if we really should give them the accolades that we do. Yet, we cannot deny the impact that they have had on our world. So what exactly makes a good legacy?
In the eyes of the world, to become a legacy you should invent something. Or maybe you could discover something that already existed. If all else fails, use a skill or a talent to become world famous. Then the world will laud you - until they find the next ‘Big Thing’.
A better option would be to follow the example of our Savior Jesus the Christ. Some 2000 years after His death, people still believe that He was a great man. Oh, they don’t all agree that He was the Son of God. But they all agree that He was a prophet and a miracle-worker. Yes, they have tried to slander Him post-death –
Did you hear the rumor that He didn’t really raise from the dead? The disciples stole His body to make it look like He did (Matthew 28:13).
How about the one where Jesus had married Mary Magdalene and had children? You can read more about that in this article.
Funnily enough, none of these rumors stick because try as they might, no one can dispute that Jesus was a perfect man. Jesus left a legacy that people are still trying to reproduce all these years later.
The thing that Jesus did above all things was to live a life that honored God. He used His “dash” to give glory to His Father.
Romans 12:1 tells us to “present our bodies [as] a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God”. The next verse gives us the steps:
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Romans 12:2NKJV).
Let’s break those instructions down:
Conforming to the world suggests doing as the world does. If the norm is to have multiple sexual partners, then that’s what we’ll do. If monogamy is the norm, then we do that. The problem with following the guidelines of the world is that they’re always changing.
Take fashion for instance: I remember as a teenager bell-foot pants were all the rage (I know I’m showing my age cause who says that!). When I told my mom I wanted a pair of “bellas” as we called them, she was confused.
“What is that?” she asked.
When I showed her a pair she burst out laughing.
“If I had known those would come back in style I would have saved a few pairs.”
Fashion is not the only fickle thing in our society. Laws change at the whim of law makers and ‘legal minds’. Policies change depending on which party is in power - at least they do in my country. You are never sure what new trends and norms will be introduced into a society.
Does that sound like a good way to develop values? Not to me.
The Word of God does not change. Sin is still sin. There’s no law that can change that. As much as we may try to make it “fashionable” to break God’s law, the penalty for sin remains death.
Our next post will look at the other two instructions contained in Romans 12:2. Until then, what other lessons can we learn from Romans 12:2 about how to live a life that honors God? How are you spending the time in your dash?