North Santa Rosa

Living With Purpose by Matt Dobson

I meet many people of many professions. Their stories intrigue me and I try to learn from their experiences, not just my own. A friend of mine, who happens to be a funeral director, shared with me a funeral sermon he once heard. It was titled, “The Dash”. He explained “The Dash” represents the mark put on a headstone between the date of birth and the date of death.What’s lived out in that dash is what’s most important for a person’s time on earth. This presents a very profound truth all of us need to consider. The hard blows of life tend to make contact repeatedly. And it sometimes seems they hit us when we’re already down. There’s a great need for self-motivation to keep going; an inner drive that says you can move this mountain—the one that seems to hinder your progress in life.

Recently, while visiting my parents, I took a look in my trophy room that’s still there. Through the years I’ve won over 300 officially organized races. I can recall the hurt, sweat, blood, and even tears that were produced to win first place in thoseraces. Each race represented a time in my life when I was put to the test physically. To win I had to finish the race. I am reminded of the Scripture: “Don’t you know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize” (1 Cor. 9:24). “The Dash” in your life will require much from you. How you live your life and the affect you have on others is a reflection of who you are inside. Jesus says, “I have finished the work you gave me to do” (John 17:4). The apostle Paul states, “I have fought a good fight. I have finished the work I was to do. I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7).

Have you ever watched a grueling distance race at a championship track meet or big road race? The leaders get out front and set the pace for all the others. Behind them, strings out a long line of runners plodding their way step by step, lap by lap, mile after mile. Along the way there will be some to drop out. Still others keep on keeping on; working their way to the finish. The race ends in a blaze of glory for the winner. Second, third, fourth and maybe the fifth runner get a lukewarm response and the last person gets a sympathy clap. As much as the world loves a winner, it’s the title of finisher we should all aspire to achieve. Perhaps you’re facing something now that is very difficult for you. Maybe you’re tempted to quit or give up. Not everyone in life will finish first. Very few are crowned as firstplace winners; it’s a select group. Still, there are fewer who have what it takes to keep going in the face of discouragement, even though they are certain that no Olympic medal waits for them at the end of the race. You and I are not always going to win in life, so we need to be ready when we don’t.

We all struggle in certain areas. We let people down. We let ourselves down. Admit this, not as an excuse to give up, but admit it as reason to keep going and to persevere and do better the next time. God is not the author of “unfinished symphonies”, but the author of a “grand concerto”. Let me share four (4) things that will help move you along and help you finish your race despite troubles and sorrows.

First, you need Motivation. Don’t merely exist day to day. Find someone who encourages you, lights your fire, helps you set positive goals, and does things to help you achieve. Ask yourself what you want; what will make things better and take it to God (Mark 11:24). Secondly, be Obedient to what you know is the right things. Christ brought victory to the lost and troubled through his obedience. He died for our sins and removed the mountain of hopelessness for all mankind. Obedience, plus faith, brings victory. When we do God’s will with believing faith, mountains of trials, trouble, and testing get smaller and smaller (Mark 9:23). Thirdly, have a Vision of better days. Webster says “visualize” means to form a mental image of something not present to sight. “Through faith you can visualize victory” (Heb. 11:1). You can win over sin, self, and Satan (1 Cor. 15:57). And finally, develop Endurance in all things. Some people are unwilling to wait God’s time. They want mountains to move at their own designated time and place. People look for shortcuts to end the race early. We must endure as Abraham did until “he received the promise.” God’s timing is always best, never too early and never too late. Keep on praying, believing, and waiting for God’s timing. Jesus said that believing faith could do the impossible. You can move mountains (Matt. 21:21).

So that’s it: Motivation, Obedience, Vision, andEndurance…M-O-V-E. Don’t quit, don’t give up, move those mountains (challenges) in your life with faith as small as a mustard seed and nothing will be impossible for you (Matt. 17:20). In the race of life, it’s not about possessions, but about character, how many people you have touched, and committing your life to Christ-like service. How are you living “The Dash” in your life? We all have one. So make it count! Whether you’re first or last, it makes no difference eternally. What’s most important is you didn’t quit—Be a finisher! And I hope to see you in church on Sunday!

This weekly column is written by Matt Dobson. A graduate of Florida State University, Univ. of West Florida, and Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, he is Pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in Jay, Florida and a 1LT Chaplain in the U.S. Army Reserves. Matt can be reached by email: He welcomes your thoughts concerning faith, belief, and Christian living. Visit the Living With Purpose website at

Posted by on Sep 23 2012. Filed under Living With Purpose, Local, Top News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *