Sunday, March 20, 2011

What Does your Dash Count For?

Luke 13:6-8

 6 Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. 7 So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’
   8 “‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. 9 If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’”

I listened to a sermon online this morning, by a dear friend and Pastor of my former church in Peoria, Illinois.  Pastor King was preaching about this parable in Luke 13- about the fig tree that bore no fruit.

Christians have a tendency to see their faith as "fire insurance".  What I mean by that, is that so many believers are living their lives grounded in the truth that they are "saved" from the wrath of Hell because they have prayed a prayer and asked Jesus into their heart.  But the truth of the matter is, this is only half of the gospel. 

We are truly saved by God's grace, and we are saved by His grace each and every single day.  But this salvation is only the first step.  There has got to be a response on our part to this grace that has been poured out on us, to this God that has exchanged His life for ours.

Pastor King noted a story about a pastor who was performing a funeral.  This pastor noted that on each and every tombstone stands two dates with a dash in the middle.  The date of birth, dash, the date of death.  It's amazing how our whole lives get summed up on one tiny dash on a stone slab, isn't it?

But you see, the dash still counts.  The pastor went on to ask the congregation: what does your dash count for?

What a sobering question, isn't it?  We spend so much time breathing...but so little time really living.  Our God desires more from us than the yes or no question of entering into a relationship with Him.  He asks for our lives.  Every second, every hour, every day.  He asks for our devotion, our obedience, and our service.  He asks for us to be consumed, in every fiber of our being, with Him.

The passage in yesterday's reflection reminded us that if we truly remain in Him, we will bear much fruit.  But too many of us are like the fig tree in Luke 13: bearing no fruit day after day, year after year.  Having no resemblance to who we were intended to be.  Living a life centered around ourselves rather than grounded in Christ. 

The parable above takes a sobering turn as the vineyard tender went to the his master and asked for the fruitless tree to be cut down and gotten rid of!  But the gracious master....said no.  Not yet.  Let me work on it first.  Let me tend to this tree.  Let me help it grow.  Give it more time.

Our God is patient.  Our God is loving.  Our God cares more about our success and fulfillment than we even care about ourselves.  And He continues to work on us.  He chooses to give us a second, third, and forth chance.  Rather than give us justice in what we deserve, He gives us mercy and offers us hope. 

Hope for transformation.
Hope for change.
Hope for restoration. 
Hope for a better life...

I don't know about you, but that is the kind of Love that motivates me to give my all.  That is the kind of love that gets me off of my seat and ready to do whatever God asks of me.  That is the kind of love that brings me to my knees in humble obedience.  That is the kind of love that enters into my heart and begins to run over...into the lives of others- as beautiful fruit. 

God is gracious...but may we never take advantage of such grace.  Christians, may we allow His kindness to lead us to repentance for the way we have lived our lives. May we acknowledge that we have led fruitless seasons in our lives, seasons in which we bore the weeds of selfishness, conceit, and apathy rather than the fruits of love, kindness, and faithfulness.  May we choose to live in such a way that bears His fruit and allows the "Dash" of our lives to reflect Jesus when it is all said and done. 

Thank you God for your grace.  May we never take advantage of your patience.  Help us to respond in a way that reflects your Love in our lives.  Help us to bear much fruit.  

To hear Pastor Kings entire message on Luke 13 (I recommend it!): Click here


  1. Debra, what a powerful post and definitely one that touched my soul on this 20th day of March, 2011. Thank you! I needed this message :)

  2. Mary, I'm glad to hear that! You can thank Pastor King for the inspiration...he is always so passionate and it rubs off on everyone who hears him :)


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