What thoughts come to mind when you hear the phrase, “Life’s too short?” I have a daughter in Connecticut, making her way and living her life, another daughter getting married in November, a son who just left for his junior year of college, and a son who graduates from high school next year. This summer, sitting around a campfire, I was just wondering, “How did it go so fast? Life’s too short.” Maybe all your kids graduated from college and ended up back home. You were just getting excited about freedom and now you get bonus parenting! You’re thinking, “Man life’s too short for this!” Maybe you’re stuck in a past moment. Someone hurt you and you can’t forgive, but recently someone stopped you and said, “You have to find a way to get past this, because life’s too short to carry that junk around.”
A wise man once wrote these words, (recorded in Psalm 90) “The length of our days is 70 years or 80, if we have the strength. …Filled with trouble and sorrow, they quickly pass. Teach us to number our days, so that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” So what’s your number? As you read this, I’ve lived over 18,640 days and if the averages hold I’ve got about 12,000 days left.
Here’s another way to think about numbering your days. On a piece of paper, write down the year you were born, followed by a dash, and then the numbers 20 and two blanks. For me it looks like this “1962 — 20__.” We usually see this configuration in obituaries and cemeteries. On one side of the dash is the day you were born; on the other side is the day you died. We don’t have much control over those two numbers. Your parents didn’t consult you about your birthday. It was ready or not, here you come. For the most part, we don’t get to choose our death-day. But then there’s your dash, between birthday and death-day is that little dash -.
In the light of eternity, it’s a short dash, but it is your dash. We all get one, only one. It is so unbelievably precious and yet we waste precious moments. We waste moments worrying about things that will never happen and moments scurrying after stuff that will never matter. We even waste moments filled with resentment toward people that will never remember us. We walk through the day with the eyes of our hearts blinded, oblivious to the beauty around us and unaware of God’s embrace. Can I ask you, “What are you doing with your dash?” You can fill your dash with good deeds or evil, passion or apathy, initiative or sloth, envy or grace, laughter or anger, friendships or loneliness. We can fill our dash living and loving, growing and dreaming, courageous moments and generous deeds, best friends and family. The question is simply, “What are you doing with your dash?”
Over a decade ago, I ran across a prayer recorded by A.W. Tozer and I’ve prayed it many times since then. “Lord make me a man to whom you can entrust your glory.” As I think about finishing my dash well…that’s what I desire. I want to be someone God can trust. Over and over and over again, we have asked the question, “Can I trust God?” We have written books encouraging people to trust God. Perhaps it would be worthwhile to ask the question from the other side? Can God trust me?
I’m not talking about being perfect, in fact in our attempts to appear perfect, we lose God’s trust. God does not need my perfection to weave his glory throughout creation. The journey of becoming someone God trusts has more to do with humility than it does with perfection. I’m talking more about surrender, about opening myself up fully to God, about making his agenda my agenda, his priorities my priorities, his heart my heart. That’s what I want to do with what’s left of my dash.