It’s not about the numbers chiseled in concrete, it’s how you lived your life in the dash between. — Scotty McCreery, The Dash
Tombstones, life, and ambitions. This time of year, and this day in particular, people seem to think and act on these ideas more than usual.
Anyone listening to the news or on social media could list numerous people who died this year. Influential authors, singers, musicians, actors, politicians, theologians, missionaries. When news like this breaks, many are quick to bemoan the year — whether in jest or sincerity of hopelessness. “2016, what gives?” “Come on, 2016!” I haven’t spent the time to investigate the rumors of the GoFundMe set up to help Betty White survive 2016.
As if a calendar year could control who lives or dies.
I’m not trying to be insensitive. On a personal note, this year death was — as always — very real in my life and the lives of my friends and family. I went to more funerals than weddings this year. And there were even more that I was not able to attend.
Maybe this year-end reflection needs a new angle. Taking another look at 2016, perhaps a year so full of death is also a merciful reminder that life must end one day, and there is no way to tell how many years that dash on the tombstone will cover. It’s a merciful reminder, because left on my own, I would not remember to look to the end.
Life and Ambitions
While cheerily waving this year away, we greet 2017 with hope. Hope that life goes on. Hope that life gets better. Hope that we could change someone else’s life for the better. We set new ambitions. How will we get better? How will we improve? Where will we make our impact?
What are your goals? I started setting mine this week and preparing to put them in practice (I won’t say what they are, but they might involve organization and simplicity… and the mortgage). For others who can be task oriented (like me… sometimes), the focus can be on do, do, do. The more I think about it, doing must go hand-and-hand with being. As a result, with the new year approaching, I find a question growing more in my mind:
What kind of people ought you to be? 2 Peter 3:11
Just let that question ring into the silence and feel its impact.
What kind of people ought you to be?
Peter’s context here is the end of all time, not just 2016. Year-endings are a reminder of the greater ending to come, so this verse, to me, is also a poignant question for each New Year.
This rhetorical question is quickly answered within the same verse:
You ought to live holy and godly lives…
This is not a call to live a kind life or a good life, but to live a life sacred to God, in piety, or reverence and duty, towards him. This is εὐσέβεια (yoo-seb’-i-ah), which has promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come (1 Timothy 4:8), and which has power inherent in it (2 Timothy 3:5).
So, part of my prayer for the new year is that I have the ambition to lead a peaceful and quiet life in all godliness. That I trust that God has given me everything pertaining to life and godliness. That I don’t lose sight of the call to be holy because my LORD God is holy. That I don’t forget that by abiding in Him I can bear the fruit of godliness, and much of it.
In the words of Francis Chan,
The world is not moved by love or actions that are of human creation. And the church is not empowered to live differently from any other gathering of people without the Holy Spirit. But when believers live in the power of the Spirit, the evidence in their lives is supernatural. The church cannot help but be different, and the world cannot help but notice.
Happy New Year!