Your Life Is More Than Just A Dash

Even though our tombstone will mark the date of our birth and the date of our death, with a dash in between, that doesn’t even come close to telling the whole story. Your life is more than just a dash. You were alive long before you took your first breath. And, if you believe in Christ, you will live long after you take your last.  Join me for a new perspective on just how precious you are to God. (Recorded January 26, 2002)

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Hi this is Eric Elder and Welcome to The Ranch.

You are precious to God.

You aren’t here by accident. You aren’t here just because your Mother and Father wanted you to be here. You’re here because God wanted you to be here. He loves you. He created you. And He has a purpose for your life.

Some of you may think that your life began the day you took your first breath. But it didn’t. It began long before that. Some of you may think that your life will end the day you take your last breath. But it won’t. It will last long after that.

Even though our tombstone will mark the date of our birth and the date of our death, with a dash in between, that doesn’t even come close to telling the whole story. Your life is more than just a dash. You were alive long before you took your first breath. And, if you believe in Christ, you will live long after you take your last.

In our time together, I want to give you a new perspective on your life. I hope it will give you a renewed sense of purpose for your life. You may even discover the meaning of life itself.

Before we go on, let’s take a minute to pray.

Prayer

Lord, I pray that You would speak to our hearts during this time together. I pray You would let each of us know how precious we are to You. I pray You would show us that the choices we make in this life really do matter. And Lord, I pray that You help us all to make the most important choice every day: to put our faith You. I ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

When do you think your life began?

When you took your first breath? When your heart started beating? When your blood started flowing? When your arms and legs began to take shape and you started to look like a person? When you were first conceived in the womb?

I believe that your life began at conception, but not just the moment your Mother and Father conceived you. I believe your life began the moment God conceived you. And that could have happened a long time ago.

Take a look with me at Jeremiah, chapter 1, verses 4 and 5:

“The word of the LORD came to me, saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.’ ”

I love that passage. For me, it lets me know that we aren’t here by accident, that God gave us a purpose for our lives even before we were born. And even more amazing, that God knew us even before we were formed in the womb.

As I’ve read through the Bible, I’ve found that many of the people mentioned on its pages were conceived in the mind of God before they were ever conceived in their mother’s womb. Before they were born, God had already given them names and purposes for their lives.

Jesus, of course, is one of the most obvious examples. God sent an angel to Mary to tell her she was going to conceive a Son, and that she was to give Him the name Jesus, and he would save the people from their sins. Luke 2:21 says that this is exactly what happened:

“On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived.”

But Jesus isn’t unique in that respect.

God spoke to Abraham 25 years before the birth of Isaac, telling Abraham that he would have a son from whom would come many kings and many nations. God told Abraham to name him Isaac a year before he was even born. Genesis 17:19, and 18:10 says:

Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.”… “Then the LORD said, ‘I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.’ ”

And that’s exactly what happened. Sarah did have a son, they named him Isaac, and his descendents include a long list of kings, including King David, King Solomon, and even Jesus, the king of kings. All of which God knew before Isaac was even conceived in his mother’s womb.

God sent an angel to Zechariah and Elizabeth before they conceived John the Baptist. Luke 1:13, 16 and 24 says:

“Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. … Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God.” … “After this, his wife Elizabeth became pregnant…”

How did the angel know about John even before Elizabeth even became pregnant? The angel tells us in verse 19:

“I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news.”

Gabriel knew because he stood in the presence of God, and God knew because He is the one who first conceived of John, gave him his name, and the purpose for his life.

These are just a few of the people who were conceived in the mind of God before they ever took their first breath. David (Psalm 139:13-16), Paul (Galatians 1:15-17), Adam (Genesis 2:4-7), Eve (Genesis 2:18-22), Ishmael (Genesis 16:11-12), Josiah (1 Kings 13:2); God had given all of them a special purpose for their lives before they took their first breath.

I like the way David puts it in Psalm 139, verse 16:

“All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

I do believe that your life began at conception, but not just at the moment your Mother and Father conceived you. I believe your life began the moment God conceived you. And He has a purpose for your life, too.

I think one of the tragedies of abortion, miscarriage and experiments on human embryos is not just that these things deprive a person of their life, but they also deprive God of the purpose for which He created that life.

God’s given us all something to do, we’re all precious to Him, and what we do with our lives really does make a difference.

Your life is more than just a dash.

Take a look with me at Ephesians 2:10:

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

God has created us for a reason, and he’s already prepared good works for each one of us to do.

The question now is this: will you walk in the calling God has on your life, or will you walk away from it? Will you choose to follow Him with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, or will you choose to walk away from Him? Will you seek Him until you find Him, or will you give up before you’ve even given Him a chance to show you what your purpose is?

Maybe you think you don’t have a purpose because of the way you were born. Maybe you think the only reason you’re here is because of an “accident.” Maybe you think you’re here because of someone’s lust but not because of their love.

Maybe you think you’re here because someone thought having you would save their marriage, or give them a purpose, or fulfill their dream. And when you didn’t save their marriage or give them a purpose or fulfill their dream, you felt like you were unwanted.

But I love the words of Mother Theresa. When people would tell her that it was better to abort an unwanted child than to bring them into this world, she said:

“There is no such thing as an unwanted child. If you don’t want them, give them to me, I want them.”

And she took in thousands during her lifetime. If Mother Theresa had that kind of love for children regardless of how they came into the world, imagine what kind of love God has for you, regardless of how you came into the world.

King Solomon didn’t come into the world under the best circumstances. His father had an affair with a another man’s wife. After killing the woman’s husband, his father then took the woman as his own. This wasn’t God’s plan, as is clearly recorded in 2 Samuel 11 and 12. But God was able to use that situation to still bring about His purposes. The second child of that relationship was King Solomon, who went on to become one of the wisest and wealthiest kings in the history of the world. Not only that, but Solomon is listed as one of the forefathers of Jesus Christ (see Matthew 1).

When you think about it, none of us had control over how we came into the world. But all of us have control over how we live in the world.

You are not just defined by your parent’s genes. Who you are is not defined by the color of your hair, or the color of your eyes, or the shape of your mouth. Who you are is primarily defined by the choices you make, what you choose to do with the gifts God has given you.

Suppose we were to take a skin cell from someone like Billy Graham, and through the process of cloning, created an exact genetic replica of Billy Graham. This new person would look just like Billy Graham, from the hair on his head to the shape of his toes. If scientists were to create such an embryo, place him into a woman’s womb until he was born, would we have another Billy Graham?

Not at all. Why? Because this new person would have his own choices to make, having grown up in an entirely different environment, with different parents, and different influences. He may choose to turn away from God, instead of following God like Billy did. That one choice alone would make him a drastically different person than the Billy Graham we know.

Or suppose we cloned Adolph Hitler from a strand of his hair, and this new child were to be born today? Would he be another Adolph Hitler? Not necessarily. If this new child chose to follow Christ at a young age, loving the Lord with all his heart, soul, mind and strength, and loving his neighbor as himself, he would be a totally different person. Even though he shared the same exact genetic code.

If we cloned Madonna, or Michael Jordan, or Mother Theresa, would we have exact replicas of those people? It all depends on the choices they make, and how they choose to use their gifts.

More than anything else, the choices you make today will define who you will be tomorrow.

And the most important choice is what we’ll do about following Christ.

When does life end?

We talked about when life begins, but when does life end? Does it end when you take your last breath? When your heart stops beating? When you’re no longer recognizable as a person? When does life end?

I believe that if you believe in Christ, your life never will end.

A French priest named Teilhard de Chardin said,

“We are not just human beings having a temporary spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a temporary human experience.”

Jesus was dead on the cross by all measures, except one: God’s. Three days later he appeared again, alive, and still appears to people today, 2,000 years later. Lazarus was dead in the tomb by all measures, except one: God’s. Four days later Christ raised him to life again. Tabitha was dead in her bed by all measures except one: God’s. That afternoon Christ raised her to life.

How can we live forever? Jesus says in John 11:25-26:

“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”

I love Christianity!

Get this: If you don’t feel precious because of the way you were born, there’s good news: you can be born again.

Even none of us have a choice about when we’re born or to whom we’re born physically, God gives each of us a choice as to when we’re born spiritually.

In fact, Jesus told Nicodemus how he could have eternal life. In John chapter 3, Jesus said:

“You must be born again.”

Nicodemus asked:

“How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!”… “How can this be?” (verses 4 and 9)

Jesus answered:

“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (verses 14 through 16).

Although none of us had control over our physical birth, we all have control over our spiritual birth.

John 1:12-13 says this about Jesus:

“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God–children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”

When you’re born again, or become a child of God, doesn’t depend on anyone but you.

Of all the choices you’ll face in your life, this one is the most important because it will determine where you will live forever. Jesus said if you want to live with God forever, you must be born again (John 3:3, 7). And the day you take your last breath here on earth won’t be the end of your life. If you believe in Christ, you will live forever, even though your body doesn’t.

When the famous preacher D.L. Moody realized he would soon be gone from this world he said:

“Someday you will read in the papers that Moody is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now…. I was born of the flesh in 1837; I was born of the Spirit in 1855. That which is born of the flesh may die. That which is born of the Spirit shall live forever.”

Summary

Let me summarize what I’ve been saying with this:

God has a purpose for every life, including yours. You are extremely precious to Him. So precious He was willing to let His Son die in your place. There’s nothing He wouldn’t do for you.

The question is what will you do in response? What choices will you make that will define who you are? And what choice will you make that will determine where you’ll spend eternity?

Before we close, I’d like to give you a few minutes of quiet time to respond right now to what God is speaking to your heart. While I play the piano, I hope you’ll talk to God in prayer. When I’m done playing, I’ll close our time with a final word and a prayer for you.

Music and Closing Prayer

(Music: “As the Deer” written by Martin Nystrom)

Lord, I pray that you would show each one of us just how precious we are to you. I pray that you would help us know that we’re here because you wanted us to be here, and that you have something special for each of us to do. Lord , I pray you would help us all to make the choices you want us to make, to do the things you want us to do, and to turn away from the things that are killing us. Lord, I pray for those who need to put their faith in You for the very first time, that you would help them to make that decision to be born again, even right now.

You might say some words like this:

I love you Lord, and I’m sorry for the sins I’ve committed. I believe that You died in my place so I would not have to die, but have eternal life with You. Please forgive me of my sins, help me to turn away from them, and let me live with You forever. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Final Thoughts

God has a purpose for your life and He’d love to help you fulfill that purpose, your destiny. 2 Chronicles 16:9a says this:

“For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”

My hope and prayer is that you will choose to follow Him today and every day for the rest of your lives. And if you believe in Christ, that will be forever.

Thanks for coming and I hope you’ll join me again here at The Ranch.

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