#3,952 and Counting

On Friday this week, I will put marble #3,952 in the big glass jar…one for every week I’ve been alive. What in the ever-loving world for you ask? Of course I have a story to tell. A couple of years ago I was fortunate to be in a Bible study with Dr. Randy Stinson, Provost and Chief Academic Officer at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s spring retreat in Destin, Florida. Randy and his bride have four children of their own and four more they have adopted. Their adopted children are from differing ethnic backgrounds and circumstances. They are a remarkable family. The motivation for my marble jar came from his practice of keeping a marble jar on his desk. His jar is smaller than mine because it is a firm reminder for him of the limited time he has as the Daddy to “Team Stinson.” There is a marble in the jar for every week until his youngest child turns 18. He has approximately 600 marbles in his jar. Each week he removes one marble from the jar reminding him of the length of time he has left to influence his children to be stalwart followers of Jesus before they become adults. It reminds him that Life is not a dress rehearsal. He only gets one shot at getting it right…being a spiritual leader, faithful and loving Dad to his children. That reminder keeps him focused on redeeming each day with positive influences for all that is sacred and eternal. I wish I’d had that idea when our kids were young. His example motivated me to think about how I might redeem the time I have left. So I went to Amazon and found a three-gallon glass jar and began the search for bulk marbles. I was shocked at how much marbles cost. If I’d known then how much they were going to be worth one day I’d have taken better care of the ones we played with on the school grounds when I was a boy. I finally found a source where I could purchase them 2,750 at a time. I ordered two boxes, figuring that 5,500 would take me to 105 years and that was probably enough. When the shipment arrived, I only received one box. Backtracking, I can only imagine what happened in transit when the box must have burst and 2,750 marbles scattered like quail on opening day. Amazon was good about replacing the lost box and I got the second shipment… unfortunately, not the same color as before. The first box covered the first 52 years of my life and I’m now working my way through the second box, the red ones. There is no significance to the colors. Why am I doing this? I am certain that at #3,952 on Friday this week, I am in the fourth quarter of my life. I desperately and passionately want to live a life of significance in service to Jesus so I want a constant reminder that my time on this earth is running out. Every Friday I pick up a new marble and ask myself:

  • “Dick Ivey you just traded off a week of your life for something, was it worth it?”
  • “Where is God leading me this next week and will I have the courage to follow where He leads?”

Many Fridays I have to admit that I squandered some of the most valuable resource I’ll ever have, time. So this Friday when #3,952 goes in the jar, the day after my 76th birthday, I’ll focus on the health issues I’ll confront next week (a knee replacement may be in my future), teaching at the Kid’s Beach Club Bible Study at Celina, Texas Intermediate School, helping folks with employment transition networking, writing a weekly Digging Deeper Blog for my church, having breakfast with a friend who lost his wife unexpectedly in January, preparing for an upcoming Marriage 3.0 weekend we have scheduled in two weeks (24kgoldmarriage.org) and what ever else God has planned for me to do.

One Final Note

Perhaps I’ll also recite my Dad’s lifelong motto,

God help me to redeem the time, before I run out of marbles.