As some of you heard, Reagan’s grandma passed away on Wednesday. We’re glad she’s in peace in heaven getting to be with Jesus, and her son Tim who died a few years ago, and see the many people she brought to Christ when she was doing missions work in Japan. I know that she is being celebrated in heaven right now and joining in with the many who were waiting for her.
My devotional that day was very fitting and a really good reminder; I thought I’d share it with you.
“We all want to live a long life. But more important than the number of our years is what we fill them with. Like most every headstone, yours will likely be marked with the same thought-provoking inscription. Somewhere below your name will be your birthdate on the left and the date you died to the right. But the most important symbol will be the dash in between those two numbers. You see, the dates will indicate when you lived and for how long. But the dash will reflect the life you lived.
Some people strive to fill their years with meaning and purpose. Other people just live a really long time. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think the desire to live a long life is something we all understand. But none of us are guaranteed even one more day. So it’s important to fill this moment-and every moment-with things that matter. When all is said and done, that boils down to faith in Christ, a strong relationship with your family, and pouring your life into others.
What will the dash on your headstone symbolize about the years you were given? A life filled with meaning that honors Christ and fulfills His purposes? Or just the number of years between two dates? Evan Esar once said, “You can’t do anything about the length of your life. But you can do something about its width and depth.”
Teachers have an incredible opportunity to fulfill Christ’s purposes for our lives. We get to pour ourselves into so many people. Even on the days that that one kid is not listening to anything you say or giving you attitude or that the parent dumps her frustration on you when you already have so many things on your plate, we get the chance to live on purpose and to lead with love in those moments.
In the past month, the discomfort of cancer and death caused some short-sightedness. Eyes became unable to see the many people that were there--easing the transition from life on earth to life in heaven. The natural outflow of lost focus can easily become negativity. I think that is an easy thing for us all to slip into if we don’t stay plugged in like we need to.
Last Friday, I left work later than I should have to go to my other job, and I was so tired and my heart really wasn’t in the mood to sing; my throat was scratchy from teaching all day. I just started going through the motions and leading the songs I needed to while praying that God would refresh my spirit. Reagan had picked the song Jesus Paid It All, and the line came “Child of Weakness, Watch and Pray, Find in Me Thine All in All.” I was reminded that I too am weak, that I don’t always feel like facing difficulties, but the shift comes in remembering that He is my stronghold. I just have to pause and watch him work—to depend on him and meet with him to be refreshed.
God’s also spoken very clearly to me recently that my walk is not just about me and Him; it’s about being part of a family. When your family goes through something difficult, it is so comforting to have them there as you do it together. When we became Christians, we entered into the family of God. We are in it together, and it’s important to make time for those relationships—to ask for help, to share in our experiences, and to be there. This weekend I got to spend time with my small group and also my friend, Cindy when we walked our puppies together, and both times I walked away feeling so refreshed, and it made me smile and think that that’s what the family of God is like—no matter what you’re doing or saying, you leave feeling refreshed.
Psalm 39:6 “We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing.” We need to keep our focus through it all on what really matters. It’s pretty easy to tell what moments matter to kids. I’ve been paying attention this week those signs—the way they look at me when I start laughing with them, the way a shy smile appears on their face when I compliment how they did something well when they didn’t know I was watching, the way the line for jump rope got longer and longer when I started turning the rope instead of just standing by observing them do it, and the way their little stories go on and on and on when they know they have my attention and listening ear, sneaking into inopportune times of the school day. These things are so small, but the speak volumes to children.
Reagan and I were listening to “We Will Not be Shaken” by Bethel Music on Sunday morning as we drove to church, and it was amazing how our tiredness melted away as we just worshipped together and how it shifted the focus from ourselves and onto what matters.
We had Spiritual Emphasis Week at work and it was such a blessing to start each day with corporate worship. Take a minute to listen to the song and refocus everything in your life to our stronghold, whose love never fails, who is trustworthy, and who has already overcome every unexpected circumstance we will face in the upcoming days. To him who has called us here in this moment to live our lives for Christ as we pour ourselves into others that cross our paths.