Bill Barker And Me


What if your life were summarized with one phrase?

Years ago I regularly ran through a very old cemetery in Ottawa, Illinois. One day I noticed one particular marker that brought me back later to see what I could learn. The stone simply bore a name and two-word phrase. I contacted the people who supervised the cemetery and no further information was available. All we know is that, probably more than one-hundred years ago, when Bill Barker’s loved ones gathered to remember him they found one two-word phrase important to summarize his life: “Life Saver.”

What would your phrase be?

Remember, this isn’t what Bill Barker said about himself, but what others said about him. That’s the tricky part.

There are a lot of words that could go on my stone if it were chosen today. While some I’d like to think would make me smile, there are far to many that wouldn’t. The truth is, I can be impatient, anxious, selfish, and occasionally even rude. Ouch. They wouldn’t actually put that on a stone, right? I’d like to choose better phrases.

As I have thought about this over the years I’ve come to a conclusion. For a long time I chose words, noble words, and made them a target of my life. While there’s nothing wrong with attempting to live up to high standards, I often felt like I was missing the mark. Endeavoring to be something or someone you’re actually not is a heavy load to bear and may create a description of your life you don’t want. In addition, this kind of process can leave you constantly wondering what others are thinking which creates a whole new level of anxiety and trying to hard. Still, thinking about how your life will ultimately be defined is a worthy subject.

So, I have a new plan.

I’d like for God to do a work in me that will allow Him to choose the phrase.  Yup, I’m giving the pen to Him. I’m no longer trying to be something or someone, but instead I am trying to become the person God intended me to become when he knit me together.  After all, He knows me, right? Inside and out, He knows me. Strengths and weaknesses, victories and failures, ugly and not so ugly, He knows me.

He knows me, and according to the Bible, He loves me. I want to listen, learn, and allow Him to lead me and form me. This process is every bit as intentional, but a whole lot more peaceful.

If these thoughts find you afraid to consider what might be written if your stone were chosen today, relax and take a deep breath. It’ isn’t. Your life is not over. Let God write the ending. He loves you. He really does. He knows you inside and out, strong and weak, victor and failure, beautiful and ugly, He knows it all, and He loves you. Instead of weighing the positives and negatives and reaching a decision about the relationship God feels comfortable having with you based upon the outcome, He just loves you. Today, right now, ask Him to take over the phrase writing process in your life! Give Him the outcomes by giving Him yourself right now.

Focus on becoming who He designed and destined you to become, and let a life lived for Him create the description of you others will remember. He’s a really good writer!

Be at peace with that.