Last week was quite a challenging week. My schedule was already full, and then three friends of mine died. One was the husband of a fellow auctioneer; one was an individual I worked with at a factory job; and the third one was a member of the church I pastored. All were Christians. All died of cancer. I had lost touch with one of them and was not aware he was sick until his wife called to tell me of his death, but I had been in regular contact with the other two. In fact, I had visited one of them in the hospital just a few days before he passed.
In recent months I've came across a challenging question several times. On one's tombstone we usually find a person's date of birth, a dash, and the date of death. The challenge is what do we do during the dash. That dash represents the duration of one's life. What really matters is what do we do during the dash between our birth and death.
Scripture tells us that God has a plan for that dash. In Jeremiah 1:5 God told Jeremiah that even before his birth he had been set apart as a prophet to the nations. I do not believe that is limited just to Jeremiah. I am convinced that each one of us is born for a purpose. The Bible teaches that each of us have been given spiritual gifts that are to be used to minister to others. That ministry is the reason we were born.
However, each of us were also given a free will and the freedom to choose whether or not we would accept the purpose for which we were born. It's sad that some choose to squander their lives and never even seek to know that purpose much less attempt to fulfill it. Such people drift through life, living from day to day, and when they reach the end of their lives they see only missed opportunities with no time left to redeem those opportunities.
None of the three friends who died last week were life-long friends so I do not know the details of their earlier lives. But, what I do know of their lives was that they lived in the dash. They impacted the lives of their friends and families and made the world a better place. I have no doubt each of them have heard the words we all want to hear: Well done, good and faithful servant.
What has God called you to do during your dash? Many of my readers are bivocational ministers. I know how difficult and challenging that can be at times. During my 20 year bivocational pastorate there were many times I wanted to give up. It just seemed too much. But, I couldn't escape the fact that I knew I was called by God to this role. I couldn't quit. This was my dash, and I needed to fulfill it.
Perhaps God has called you to provide lay leadership to your church. I know there are probably times when you feel unworthy and incapable, but I want to remind you that your calling is as valid as that of your pastor. God calls some of us into pastoral roles and others are called to provide lay leadership to our churches. Both are valid calls that should be honored and fulfilled.
I want to encourage you to live out your dash to the fullest. With God's help, complete your mission here on earth so when your time comes to enter into eternity you can do so without regret.