WHAT ARE THEY PUTTING ON YOUR TOMBSTONE?
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I turned fifty-five last Monday. It’s hard to believe. I always hated double-nickels. That goes back to the days where they made us drive 55 mph on the Interstate in a government-mandated hoax to save gasoline. Seventy was so much better. It got me there faster.
I think I can see seventy off in the horizon…..
Where did my life go? I was doing the math the other day. Fifty five is as close to eighty-five as it is to twenty-five. Man, twenty-five, now those were the days. I could run without aching, talk without thinking, and spend without earning.
I started coaching at twenty-two, married at twenty-seven, bought my first house at twenty-eight, and had a son at thirty. I remember my first day of teaching, someone came up to me and said, “Just remember, Dave, you can retire in thirty years.” I did the math in my head. Fifty-two seemed so far off. Today, so does eighty.
Seventy is what the Bible gives us. Eighty if we are lucky. The way I look at it, daylight is burning. I’ll be riding through the grocery store in my scooter before I know it, stretching to reach the “Depends,” as I chomp on prunes to loosen my stools, which have been hardened by the medication some doctor ordered to tighten my bladder.
I know this to be true. My mom is in a nursing home, happy, but riding in a body that is ready for the junk yard. My wife and I celebrated our twenty-eighth anniversary last Friday by moving her parents out of their home of fifty-years into “senior-living” apartments. Life-happens. Time stops for no one. It is sad to watch them ride out their old days. They spent their lives chasing the American dream. I’m not sure they ever captured it.
There are three things you can never recover. A word once spoken, an opportunity that is lost, and time once spent.
I have surely wasted a lot of time.
Eight years ago, Michele and I walked away from a normal life. I was forty-seven and in the “prime earning phase” of my life. We left job-security behind. We turned our backs and launched out into the deep, just five years from retirement. We left it all on the table. I had no idea how much livin’ we hadn’t done.
We all live in a box, you know? Whether or not we want to admit it, for most of us our jobs have become a trap. We are prisoners to the office, or the business, or classrooms. We say we are “earning a living” but really, most of us are stuck. If we are not careful we will one day look up and find out we are fifty-five, or sixty-five, or eighty.
I know, I know, I sound a bit melancholy today. But really, I’m not. I just want to encourage someone. I don’t know who you are but this is hitting home. Most of us don’t live our lives, we spend them. What are you spending yours on?
I hope this isn’t a shock to you, but we’re all going to die. Someday they will dig a hole, put you in a box, and cover you with dirt.
What will they put on your tombstone?
A tombstone says something about one’s life. An encapsulation of what you did on the topside of the dirt. Memories of you are all that will remain. Here are a few epitaphs to ponder.
Davis “An American Soldier and Defender of the Constitution.”
We buried our Daddy thirty months ago. He was an honest, hard-working father, and a selfless family man. His legacy was his family. On the tombstone he will one day share with our mother it simply reads “Parents of Jane, Joseph, Daniel, David, and William.” It is honorable and noble, fitting for two folks who were married for sixty years, who poured their lives into their children.
What are you pouring your life into?
I spent the last eleven-years of my teaching career in Room 134, a 20’ x 12’ white cubicle. That was my world. Every day, seven hours a day, stuck in a box. I was doing good things. I made a difference in a lot of kids' lives, but I was trapped inside a cell. Did you ever feel that way? It wasn’t until I walked away that I realized what a prisoner I had become. I walked away and traded security for freedom.
Benjamin Franklin once said “Those who trade freedom for security deserve neither freedom nor security.”
I do a lot of traveling these days. It seems glamorous but it really isn’t. I travel anywhere they will invite me. There is no longer a steady paycheck, a retirement account, or medical benefits. We have traded all of our security; everything those who control the rat-race say we rats must have. We live on faith, we travel on faith, and we pay our bills on faith.
My wife is amazing. Most sociologists will tell us that the one thing a woman craves more than anything is security. Not Michele. She pushes me out the door in this ministry-partnership. She has an eternal perspective of our lives. She knows we will one day stand before Him and desire to hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” Our lives are not our own.
The other day as I was ruminating on the changes in our lives, I said to my petite girlfriend/wife -- that’s how I introduce her -- as my girlfriend and my wife, because she is my truest (rare, I know) friend! I said “Wow, Honey. Look at how the Lord has honored our willingness to take a chance. Look at the places the Lord has taken us in the last eight years. I used to be stuck in Room 134. Now I travel America. Can we even imagine the lives we have touched?”
Leaving the security of Room 134 brought freedom to our lives…and to others. “Lay up for yourself treasures in heaven…
I was grumbling the other day as I was packing for a ministry jaunt to Maine. “What a hassle this is.” I moaned to Michele. “I hate this part, packing, airports, security-lines, flight-delays, hotels, and being gone from you. Sometimes it is such a pain.”
Michele knows how to handle me. After I finished grumbling she stuck her head around the corner and gigged me, “Well, David, you could always go back to Room 134.”
What is holding you back? What snares have you put both of your feet in? What are you trading your life for?
One of my friends recently said to me, “Coach, I don’t know how you do it. You are always out there on a limb somewhere. You are so edgy.”
I don’t know if he meant it as a compliment or not, but I took it as one. “Thanks,” I retorted, “Yes, I know from experience…out on the limb…that’s where all of the fruit hangs.”
We only pass this way once. Remember, time spent can never be recovered. Are you looking for a life filled with security or filled with meaning? You can’t always have both.
Don’t you want your life to matter? Don’t you want your life to have impact? Don’t you hope that when you die folks will moan, “How will we ever replace him?”
Michele knows what to put on my tombstone. “Here lies a dangerous man!” Dangerous to the Devil!
Let go of the trunk of the tree. The only security you will ever have lies in serving Jesus. Psalm 20:7 “Some trust in chariots, some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord.”
I know this commentary is for someone. I don’t know who you are but let me tell you this. “Come on in, the water is fine.” Step out of the boat. You will never be happy hanging on when Jesus says to go! “Those who trade freedom for security deserve neither freedom nor security.” One person can change the world!
are they putting on your tombstone?
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Coach Dave Daubenmire, founder and President of Pass The Salt Ministries www.ptsalt.com and Minutemen United www.minutemenunited.org, is host of the high octane Pass The Salt radio show heard in Columbus, Ohio.
In 1999 Coach Daubenmire was sued by the ACLU for praying with his teams while coaching high school in Ohio. He now spends his energy fighting for Christian principles in the public domain.
did my life go? I was doing the math the other day. Fifty five is as close
to eighty-five as it is to twenty-five. Man, twenty-five, now those were
the days. I could run without aching, talk without thinking, and spend