Perhaps those words are shocking to you to read. They are somewhat shocking for me to write, but it’s true. I am dying.
I’m not entirely certain how much longer I have. It may be a matter of days or weeks. Lord willing, I will yet have some months and even years, but I am still dying.
I remember some years ago hearing about a man pointing to a grave marker and noticing that the years of birth and death were separated by a dash. He said, “That’s my life, that dash.” We all live in the dash. We are, the Bible tells us vapors, we are blades of grass and flowers. We are here today and soon gone. I am temporary, ephemeral.
This knowledge works on me as a man and as a pastor. I try to live with the consciousness that this may well be my last day. The sermon I am preparing may be my last sermon. It may be the last time I ever exhort my brethren, the last time I ever plead with the lost. What do I want to say? What burdens do I want to leave behind?
Knowing that I am dying affects my friendships. I think when I leave a conversation that I may never speak to this brother or sister again. How do I want to part with them? Will I be glad with that last conversation? Was it loving and kind or petty and cruel? What if that last email I shot off was my last before I died. Is that how I want to be remembered?
I think of my times with my children or my wife…that parting hug or kiss may be my last. The words which I have spoken or things I should have said and did not. I do not want to die with regret. Yes, I think differently now that I am dying.
Everyone reading these words is dying. You know that don’t you? You know you are in the dash? What do you want your epitaph to be? What are the things you are fighting for or over that you’ll be pleased you gave your energy to in light of your approaching death? May God help us not to squander the little time we have left.Jim Savastio, Pastor Reformed Baptist Church of Louisville