The following is the second letter in an series of “open letters” to my children. They represent the lessons I’ve learned in life that are most dear to my heart and are inspired by the last words my father wrote to me before he died. To start with Letter #1…CLICK HERE!
I wish I would have written this letter to you years ago when the wounds of what I’m going to talk to you about were fresh …and still raw. I wonder if the words would have had more power if I would have spoken them when I was still bound up in the chains of my foolish decisions. My fear; however, is that no matter what I say, or how well I can articulate the pain this mistake caused me and the years of my life that were taken from me…my words will be ignored because this lesson is one that is only truly learned…the hard way. But please listen anyway, because what I am going to share with you is one of the most important things I have ever learned in my life!
All men have problems and issues that effect various areas of their life. We all know that. However, there are two particular areas of concern that, in my opinion, seem to have greater impacts than most of the others. I say that because these 2 areas seem to produce ripple effects throughout nearly every other area of a person’s life. One issue is the state of a man’s physical health; but that’s not the subject of this letter. The other, is the state of a man’s financial health. And just like in our physical body there are various diseases and viruses that can cause great sickness and even death. There is a financial virus that will kill you. It will steal years of your life. It will crush your marriage. It will rob you of every last bit of vitality in your being and you will feel like your carrying a load that no man is able to bear. That virus goes by the name of DEBT.
My goal in writing you this letter is not to tell you that there is never a time to take on debt or when it may be appropriate and why. My goal in writing you this letter is so you would read it and understand the weightiness of your decision, should you decide to take on debt. You must understand the implications of what it means to agree to be another man’s slave. When you make the decision that you are going to have something now that you cannot afford to pay cash for, you are making the decision to be owned by another man. You are making the decision to step into a prison cell and you are handing the keys away. You are no longer a free person! (Proverbs 22:7). Do not take this decision lightly. Although you will find that breath still comes out of your mouth and your heart is still beating…you will soon come to the realization that you are no longer alive.
As I said in the beginning, I don’t know that it’s possible for you to truly understand what I mean without making this mistake yourself. How can a man truly appreciate freedom unless he has experienced what it is like to be in shackles? I hope that is not the case for you two. I know that it will be difficult. It will be difficult because the world does not live this way. Slavery (personal debt) has become an acceptable way of life for the majority. This is not the life our God has called us to live. Isn’t His entire story summed up in the word, Freedom? He came to set us free! You cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). Whatever it is that you think you need today, it is not worth your freedom! As one of my mentors, Dave Ramsey, has said, you must make the decision to “live like no one else today, so you can live like no one else tomorrow.”
Their is a possibility you are reading this and it’s already to late. You’ve already dug the hole and made the mistake. I want you to know their is hope. Years ago I went for an afternoon jog on the 66 Bridge in Rowlett. I will never forget that day. I was still in shackles – bound up and miserable because of the financial mistakes I had made. But I remember the very moment on that bridge when the truth of God’s Word invaded my heart and transformed me. I finally accepted personal responsibility for those mistakes. On that bridge, I vowed that I would never be another man’s slave again. I was done! I decided that there was nothing I could possess that was worth my freedom. I would not dig that hole even 1 inch deeper….no matter what the consequences were. It was a defining moment in my life because at that moment I realized that by me making that decision, there was only one direction for me to go…UP! In that moment, on that bridge, I realized that although none of the circumstances in my life had changed, and that for all practical purposes, I was still sitting in the corner of my prison cell…the shackles had been unlocked and the prison door had swung open…I HAD BEEN SET FREE!
“and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32
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