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The Dash of Life

Tombstone of HopeI recently enjoyed the privilege of hearing North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby deliver the commencement address to the graduating class of 2012 at my daughter’s high school. Justice Newby is the only conservative on the North Carolina Supreme Court. He is a born-again Christian who reflects the sovereignty of Christ in all that he says and does. He and his family attend a local Baptist Church in Raleigh where he is an Elder, Sunday School teacher and youth leader.

Justice Newby reminded me of something with his speech. He spoke about how much you can learn by walking through a graveyard and looking at the headstones. Almost every headstone you see will have two numbers separated by a dash, the date of birth and the date of death separated by the lowly dash. That dash represents and punctuates the brevity of a person’s entire life. And should our Lord delay His return to us, I too will have my life represented by a dash; and so will you!

What will that dash represent of your life? Is it a life of self-fulfillment and excess, a life of comfort and ease, pain and trials, or a life of goodness and service to others? Whatever type of life you are living or faith you practice, there is one glaring, inescapable truth that we find in 2 Corinthians 5:10:

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”

All of us will one day appear before the judgment seat of Christ. Our great God and Savior Jesus Christ will judge us for what we have done in this world. Will your works stand up to God’s test?

“Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.”—1 Corinthians 3:12–13, (AV)

Charles Thomas Studd was an English evangelist and missionary born in 1860. He served in China, India and Africa. He is attributed as the author of the following poem:

Two little lines I heard one day,
Traveling along life’s busy way;
Bringing conviction to my heart,
And from my mind would not depart;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one,
Soon will its fleeting hours be done;
Then, in ‘that day’ my Lord to meet,
And stand before His Judgment seat;
Only one life,’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, the still small voice,
Gently pleads for a better choice
Bidding me selfish aims to leave,
And to God’s holy will to cleave;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, a few brief years,
Each with its burdens, hopes, and fears;
Each with its clays I must fulfill,
living for self or in His will;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

When this bright world would tempt me sore,
When Satan would a victory score;
When self would seek to have its way,
Then help me Lord with joy to say;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Give me Father, a purpose deep,
In joy or sorrow Thy word to keep;
Faithful and true what e’er the strife,
Pleasing Thee in my daily life;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Oh let my love with fervor burn,
And from the world now let me turn;
Living for Thee, and Thee alone,
Bringing Thee pleasure on Thy throne;
Only one life, “twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one,
Now let me say,”Thy will be done”;
And when at last I’ll hear the call,
I know I’ll say “twas worth it all”;
Only one life,’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last. ”

— extra stanza —

Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
And when I am dying, how happy I’ll be,
If the lamp of my life has been burned out for Thee.”

Only what’s done for Christ will last. What have you done for Christ lately?

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