Remember that the middle matters

Sunday, November 14, 2010

My wife and I had a garage sale a few weeks ago. To be honest, my wife had a garage sale and I moved stuff around and set up tables.

A gentleman from Jamaica came to our sale. He shared with me in a classic Jamaican accent that he could not wait to get back home. He said the dying trees and cold were depressing him, and he wanted to get out of here.

Come late January, I'd like to have his address.

No matter how hard we try, death is not something that we can get away from. We can get Botox, get liposuction, lift weights, run and do all we want to stave off aging. The reality is, though, that from the moment of our conception we must face the certainty of our death.

There are common characteristics on cemetery grave markers. Some markers are large and more ornate than others, but they all share three characteristics: a date of birth, a date of death and a dash in the middle. Beginning and end are beyond our control. The dash is we should be most concerned with.

In his second letter to his spiritual son Timothy, Paul says, "I am being poured out; the time of my departure is near, I have fought the fight, run the race, I have kept the faith."

Here is a picture of an old man coming face to face with the end of his earthly life. He sees himself like a drink being poured out soon there would be nothing left. He's not giving up but stating the facts. This life does not last. His trip to the next life was about to begin.

My children and I love Oreos. Do you know what part gets eaten first? Not the cookie, it's the middle. Paul, knowing the security of eternal life, not if he was fulfilled or not but if he was faithful, faced death confidently because faithfulness to God was what made up the dash. The middle matters.

Numbering our days reminds us of the brevity of the middle. We have a short time this side of eternity. The battle to fight, the race to run and a faith to keep, these are the middle issues that confidently take us to the next life.

Rob Hurtgen is a husband, father, minister and writer.

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