By: Dennis Bates
When I was in college there were days that were just too beautiful to waste inside the classroom. Usually those days came in early spring, the first time the temperature got warm enough to drive with the windows open in the car or with the top down on the little red roadster that was my pride and joy. Keep in mind that in Iowa where winters frequently see temperatures dip well below zero, it didn’t take much in spring to bring that out of me. Any temperature slightly above 40 degrees would do. We skipped class. It happened every year.
One of the most shocking realities about life came when I found you couldn’t skip work on days like that. Your employer actually expected you to show up. I think it had something to do with the fact that he was paying you to be there. Also there was work to do, but I am one of those people who believes fervently that work is only to be tolerated as a necessary evil and fit in around having fun. What can I say? Poor toilet training I guess.
When we were seniors and just chomping at the bit to graduate, the urge to skip class became even stronger. Maybe it was the fact the we sensed this was one of our last chances to be carefree, who knows; it was just hard to concentrate knowing that we would soon be expected to go out and “make a living.” And then there was the draft and the Vietnam War looming in our futures as well.
My last couple of years on my career job got to be the same way: I couldn’t wait to get out. No matter what the reason was, or whose fault it was, it was time, and I knew it. So, with the zeal of a graduating college senior I walked out of my office for the last time, rolled down the windows of my car (it was March and it was cold, but it was symbolic, so I had to), and I drove away not looking back. I can say without hesitation it was the best decision I ever made.
However, I am not sitting under a palm tree in a hammock drinking fruit punch through a straw, although I suppose I could. I have been busier than ever, and fun and work have merged so I can’t really tell them apart anymore. One of the real motivators for me was a line in a book I read about retiring early. It said something like retirement is your last chance to do what you’ve always wanted to do. I couldn’t agree with that more.
I have always wanted to write, and for a while when I was first out of college, I did, on a newspaper. It was without a doubt the best job I ever had…until this one. For all those years I kept praying for God to show me what he wanted me to do with my life, wondering why I wasn’t getting a clear response. Now I realize that this is it. The rest of those days before now, including the ones when I skipped class, were just preparing me for this, giving me background, insights and the tools I needed. I needed so I could retire in the Lord, and do what He was preparing me for. And be busier and happier than I’ve ever been.
The really interesting thing is I haven’t wanted to skip class a day since I realized that.