Paul, in his letter to the Hebrews tells us to run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Imagine walking through a spiritual "hall of fame". You read the names. You scan the faces. You see on every plaque those two dates that indicate when the person's race began and when it ended......with a little dash (-) in between. Then you come to your plaque. What does it say?
I would like to invite you to personalize this. Take a piece of paper. Write your name at the top. Under your name, write the date you were born, a dash and then a "?" for the date at the right. Something like this:
________________ - _______?________
You had no say at all in the number on the left. You arrived on this planet one day without being consulted at all ahead of time. Ready or not, here you came. You did not get a vote on your parents, your birthplace, your family order, or your DNA. All of these were chosen for you. You were made the bearer of a human soul, created in the image of God, destined for an eternal existence.
You may be very happy about having entered the world, or you may feel that your life is a crushing burden. But you should know this: God is very pleased that you exist. He "knit you together in your mother's womb." That year when you were born is one of His favorite years.
One day the question mark on the right will be replaced with a number as well. We don't have much say about that number either. This is part of what gives life its urgent value. We have one shot at it.
That brings us to the great question: What are you going to do with your dash? What will you do with the turns you get to play the game? That little dash is yours to spend: to shape character, to give allegiance, to choose hope or cynicism, to seize initiative or resign in passivity; to grow stagnate, to be known or to hide.
And the range of what is possible in one life is staggering: Adolf Hitler, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr., Attila the Hun, my grandmother--each of these was given a single dash.
And now....ready or not.....you have been given a turn. The bell has sounded. It's your race now. What will you do with your dash?