The online Bible teaching ministry of Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
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Friday, October 1, 2021

Donegal Springs, Lancaster County, PA (Click to enlarge)
Donegal Springs
(Click on photo for larger image)

"The Dash"

Message summary: A consideration of the brevity of life.

Listen to this message on your audio player.

“What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14). “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace” (Acts 20:24).

Yesterday I talked to Marlin Smucker, one of our business owners we work with as chaplains. He knew about Brooksyne's surgery Monday and inquired about her recovery. I updated him and commented that she is getting a little older and as we age it seems most see an increase in health-related issues. He responded, "She's not that old" and referenced those much older. He also reminded me that, from eternity's perspective, she's quite young!

One way to get a perspective on the relative brevity of life is to walk through a cemetery. Like other areas of the US we have many church cemeteries scattered throughout our county, including several near our home.

Donegal Presbyterian Church, which is about a mile from our home, was “gathered before 1730”. It’s a simple but dignified structure that maintains its original box pew seating in a country setting. A box pew is a type of church pew that's encased in paneling and prevalent in New England from the 16th to early 19th centuries. Before the Protestant Reformation, seating was not customary in churches (can you imagine that?).

Donegal church cemetery

The church's first structure was made of logs, the first log cabin church built in America, before it burned to the ground. The grounds and gardens are beautiful and include an active spring (see photo above) that is the source of Donegal Creek which runs through the field across from our house. So we occasionally walk our dogs over and view the beautiful grounds while also appreciating the church volunteers who donate their labors.

The cemetery, built in 1732, sits to the side of the church and contains the physical remains of the deceased including over thirty soldiers who fought in the Revolutionary War. When walking through the cemetery there are many statements of faith inscribed on the tombstones.

One is the tombstone of Rev. Nehemiah Dodge who lived about 200 years ago. He was the founder and principal of Cedar Hill Girl’s School near Mount Joy. An inscription posted on his gravestone by pupils in appreciation for his noble life work read: “He opened his mouth with wisdom and on his tongue was the law of kindness.” His spiritual qualities were then summed up by one word, “faithful!” I took a photo of the tombstone but it is so weathered it’s very hard to read.

Having been a long distance runner in high school I have often alluded to the fact that the Christian life is like a marathon, requiring discipline and perseverance. But life is also like a dash, in the sense of a quick run, as life goes by so very quickly. As the Apostle James observed, “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14).

In running fast, short races are known as “dashes”. The shortest one (100 meter) takes less than 10 seconds to run. A tremendous commitment along with intense training is required, in addition to God-given talent, for one to excel in a race like this.

But the dash I am referring to in today’s perspective is the punctuation mark on most tombstones. Tombstones typically record the name along with the year of birth followed by the year of death.* What separates these two notable years on the stone? In most cases a small dash, representing the entirety of one’s life. But a decision we make during this "dash" determines our eternal destiny, and whether or not we will truly "Rest In Peace". That decision of course is whether we believe in and follow Christ.

That short punctuation mark represents the life we live on this earth, which is a very brief dash in light of eternity. And God has given each of the redeemed a fundamental task in life. Like the apostle Paul, we all have “the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace”.  We are called to testify which begins with a redeemed heart that witnesses of Christ through our words and actions. And as we testify of Christ we are also equipped with various specific giftings.

As a follower of Jesus Christ may you, like Paul, testify to the Gospel of God’s grace. And like Nehemiah Dodge, whose body was buried over 200 years ago, may your legacy include that of one who has been faithful; faithful to God, and faithful to all his duties as a follower of Christ.

Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, Your grace is like an inexhaustible fountain that overflows but never runs dry. We testify to the gospel of Your grace as it fills every area of our being. It refreshes, forgives, ignites, strengthens, fortifies, and sets our hearts ablaze with the fire of the Holy Spirit. We shudder to imagine life without Your ever-present, all-sufficient grace so we testify to all the world that Your grace is available to all who call upon the name of Jesus. In this very brief period of history that You have ordained for us to live, may we leave a legacy that leads others to the only hope for eternal life, salvation through Christ Jesus our Lord, in whose name we pray. Amen.

*Older tombstones tended to record the date of birth and death and many also recorded the number of years, months and days the person lived.

Another old tombstone of a minister of the gospel expressed faith this way. At the time of his death it stated, "entered into life".  How very true!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"All I Have Is Christ"  Video  Paul Baloche

"Your Grace Still Amazes Me"  Video  Phillips, Craig & Dean

"My Portion"  Video  Shane & Shane

Ken manages the service department at JK Mechanical. This morning he had an interesting witnessing opportunity, fulfilling the command to "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect" (1 Peter 3:15). He was going over some tech questions with the techs on his service team. When he was finished he asked, "Do you have any other questions?" One of the service tech asked him, "What is the meaning of life?" Ken managed to get in a brief, thought-provoking witness by responding "to love and glorify God" alluding to the first question in the Westminster catechism.

Overcoming JR
In another company this morning I saw a very quiet post-it note but it's packed with great significance as an employee is overcoming his alcohol problem. Each day he places a small post-it note revealing the number of days since his last drink. What a blessing to look for his note and see the number increase weekly, knowing what it represents.

Brooksyne's note: Thank you for your continued interest and prayers on my behalf as I begin my fourth day of recovery from my surgery Monday afternoon. Yesterday was a very encouraging day as I returned to the Women's Clinic in Hershey and had some of the medical "paraphernalia" removed that had been with me since surgery. Any temporary medical device inserted in the body is invasive and greatly interferes with the norms of life including that of being able to sleep. So I am grateful that I am free of the "extras" needed to speed my recovery and am thoroughly grateful for your prayers that entrust me to God's healing power.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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