This post last updated on November 13th, 2021
I once heard a pastor talk about the “dash” in your life. It was such a compelling illustration. And then I kind of associated it in my thoughts with the public transport in the London Underground where the warning urges riders to mind the gap, or in other words, don’t fall off of the platform and get hit by a train!
The 2 warnings are actually quite similar, so here’s where you and I get to take this idea that I ended up calling mind the dash, blow it up to full size, have a good look at that, and see how it applies to daily life.
Mind the Dash
When a person dies and a tombstone is erected in their honor, there are usually 2 dates represented. There’s the birth date, and the date of death. In between those 2, of course, we have a dash.
John Doe. 1937 – 2017.
What’s in that dash? What does that little, insignificant symbol represent in real, human terms?
Even better, what’s in your dash? What are your victories and struggles? What are the joys, the sorrows, and the things that you stand for, or don’t stand for? What’s your legacy shaping up to be?
I know you’ve heard people joke that there are only 2 things certain in life. Death and taxes, right? Well, you don’t really have to pay your taxes. You may not like the consequences, and I don’t advise it, but you can skip them.
You can’t skip life and death, though. We each get one dash to live out. I don’t know about you, but statistically speaking, I’m halfway through my dash.
Dang. That’s sobering.
Leaving a Legacy
I remember my 20’s and 30’s. It’s funny to say that like I’m old or something, when I’m really not! But seriously, I remember my attitude and my goal of when Gene is gone, the world is going to know he was here.
Was that you, too? Maybe that’s you now, and that’s ok. Maybe you really are called to make your mark in history and be known for it. Not me, I was just full of ego.
But you and I still have a dash that we leave behind, even if history books don’t record our names. Here’s what I mean.
My Grandfather was a man to look up to. He was a giant in my young eyes, and he still was when he died in 2015. He wasn’t the most educated man you’d meet, and because of his mother dying at an early age and he being the eldest, he probably had about a 4th grade education level.
Yet he was wise beyond education. I don’t recall seeing him read any books, I’m not certain how well he actually could read, but among being knowledgeable about many of life’s practical things, he also knew the Bible inside and out.
Not perfect by any stretch, but highly respected and very much loved by anyone in his life. His legacy? In his life and until his death, he pointed his family, people he met, and those who knew him to the cross.
History won’t record the actions of this coal miner from Kentucky who moved to California in the 1950’s and worked in a foundry until he retired. But, his children, grand children, and great grandchildren all knew him, what he believed, what he stood for, and how much he loved God and his fellow man.
And now his great-great-granddaughter is going to know that about him as well. That’s because in some ways, Grandpa’s dash has become mine, and I’ll make certain that she knows!
Exemplifying God’s truth and love, communicating that in actions and words, and living sacrificially for others is how anyone who truly knew Grandpa remembers him. And that’s a legacy.
What’s In Your Dash?
So that takes us back to the first idea. What is your dash representing? Have you considered it at all? I didn’t until I heard it in terms of my life represented by a small mark on a page or something.
The good news is that since you’re reading this, you have time to consider your dash and to leave your world and the people God has put in it a better, more encouraged place.
Need some help coming up with some ways to invest into your “dash?” Here are just a few ideas for you to think about.
- How do people in your life, co-workers, friends, family, or even acquaintances relate to you? Are you a safe friend, or a gossip?
- Do your neighbors know your name? Do you know theirs?
- What hobbies do you have that you could share to bless or encourage others? For example, I like to roast coffee in my downtime and I really enjoy the moments when I get to share fresh roasted coffee with someone.
- If you’re married, are you serving your spouse? I don’t mean like a busboy, or in some impractical way, but does your spouse know that nothing and no one comes ahead of them?
- Do you have children? Nieces, nephews, or maybe grandchildren? Friend, there is no better place to invest in legacy than with the children, adolescents, and young adults that God has allowed in your life.
- Is there any place in your community that has a need that you can fill? Libraries, schools, homeless shelter, or your church? When you touch just one life, it’s the same effect as tossing a rock in a pond. The ripples go on and on.