Posts Tagged ‘Women's Bible Study’

Living the “Dash” Between the Dates…

July 30, 2012

If you’ve been reading along, we’ve been exploring the storyline of our lives. I’ve been musing about the impact our stories can have with the splash and ripple effect potential, the main character connection to the audience, and the authorship responsibility we have with our choices. I walked away from that last one thinking about the sixty seconds I want to use more responsibly with my choices and the gentle reminder that I want to be careful what I write into my story. It’s a string of choices that lay before me, and each one of them holds impact beyond the span of time it occupies. If I write the story with the end in mind, then there is a natural move toward something that some might think too morbid. I think it’s potentially thought-provoking.

What’s my tombstone going to read?

It’s a serious topic, admittedly. But, the truth is, there will be two dates with a dash in between. I know the first date and thoroughly love to celebrate it and be celebrated for the day I appeared on the scene. (I was pretty cute, by the way, with all that crazy, dark, muppet-like hair on my head!) That date is known; the other isn’t. Right now, I live the dash between a known and an unknown. So do you, probably. Beneath those dates will be well-chosen words describing that dash, I hope. What will they say? Have you thought about that, too?

Sure. People would likely choose the nicest things they could say, and I would certainly appreciate that. Who wouldn’t? If there were a tombstone to etch, it would be lovely to know the words reflected blessing to others in some way. But, what would the real, honest story be…the part not written in stone with fewer letters available than a Twitter tweet?

My story includes the daily mundane stuff, the occasional highlight event, and the surprises. It’s the good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s moments of serenity, panic, and other emotional responses to things. We all have this and more. Some things are common to all of us, and some things are our secret joys or sufferings. With that in mind, what’s the dash between the dates going to look like?

I know that I know that I know there is potential for a great epitaph beneath the dates! That’s a pretty cool thing to be assured of, in my mind. I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly (and the ugly is UG-LY!) in more than forty years. I’ve been thinking about the authorship in the story; it’s been shared between me and others, certainly. But there’s this other, larger piece that has me mostly thankful: the authorship isn’t all human. I thank God for that!

There is the Author some of us don’t see, don’t notice, or don’t even know. Some of us grant Him the casual nod, acknowledging His existence. Some of us know Him, think about Him, and desperately ask Him to write new things on the pages sooner than later. My God, my Abba, is named the “author of life” (Acts 3:15a). The God-Man, Jesus, is named the “author of salvation” (Hebrews 2:10) and the “author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). There is an Author writing into the story from the perspective of the whole, every minute detail known, with the end in mind. The end is beautiful because it concludes with Him hanging on a cross for each twist and turn we might try to call “good,” know to be bad, or recognize as flat-out UGLY!

So, back to what people might say in the longer, unedited version of my “epitaph”–

The long line of friend-biographers might choose from any number of things:

Jen: She loved her God, family, friends, and (on a really good day) enemies. She loved to pray, and often stood in the gap with an intensity few would see. Words, word choices, and grammar were always important. She was cute and petite, and colored her hair. She loved her 4″ heels that allowed her to look a few more people older than junior high students in the eye. She wasn’t a runner, and then she was. She loved a clean kitchen, but rarely cooked in one. Olfactorily challenged, she rarely stopped to smell the roses…or anything else. She battled her past, her desires, and her temper, too. 

You get the idea. The good, the bad, and the ugly. That’s living the dash fairly honestly and real up there.

That’s closer to the unabridged version in epitaphs, I suppose, but there’s more! The epitaph, the short version of it all, says something much more brief:

Jen: She knew and loved Jesus.

In short, nothing else matters. The first, long form may be all true. If edited, I might look pretty spiritually spiffy, too. But, how I look in print, conversation, or carved into a stone means precious little in light of the second, shorter version. That short form could say…

She knew of Jesus.

She recognized Jesus as an amazing, brilliant Teacher and Prophet.

She did plenty of good things to outweigh the bad and the ugly.

She really liked the Christian ideals, behaviors, and thoughts, in general.

The short, sweet, to-the-point epitaph is what it is. It creates that division so many of us love, hate, or have a love-hate relationship with. Plainly, it determines the end of the story in this world at one critical juncture: the second, unknown date. This is where the writing on the pages is a whole other ballgame. Every little drop of water moving in a single direction now has to move into eternity. 

Read 1Peter 1, paying special attention to verse 19 when you get there. Read Revelation 7:9-14. Then, there’s my personal favorite verse to wrap up with:

     They overcame him (the accuser) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony  Revelation 12:11a *

I think I’ll leave this right here. There is something very powerful in the blood of the Lamb and our stories!

Be blessed!

* Explanation of “him” as “the accuser” is mine, but comes from the previous verse.
** If you are a little confused by this entry and still haven’t read The First Splash and on through, it may be very helpful in light of this post.


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