A 7 mile wide comet is headed toward earth. If it hits earth it is large enough
to destroy all mankind. You only have a few months to live unless you are one of
800,000 people randomly chosen by the government to continue civilization. Thankfully,
this isn’t true (I hope). In 1998, “Deep Impact” was a major motion picture that
left many leaving the movie theaters wondering, “what if”.
If you are like me, your life has been marked by people who have left an impact
on your life. Whether it was a grandmother who taught you to love with your whole
heart or a neighbor who showed you that friendship was more valuable than gold, people
have impacted our lives. Although, I will admit that there have been people who
have impacted me in negative ways, those who have touched my life for the good, far
outweighs those who meant to harm me.
I titled this insight “Deep Impact” because I was deeply impacted by a high school
football coach who shared with me a tremendous story. Most people who highly impact
others are usually the product of someone who impacted them. This story is about
an ordinary man who lived out an ordinary life, yet literally changed the lives of
many who came in contact with him. This “Goliath” figure stood tall and large, not
by strength or statue but by love, character, genuineness and sincerity. The following
story is from a short but powerful conversation I had with a high school football
coach named Paul Sutherland. Paul’s life was altered by a man who shared a life
of “lessons” that would impact him the rest of his life.
Coach David Farnham was Paul’s high school football coach and more importantly his
friend. Coach Farnham never missed an opportunity to teach football or more importantly
life “lessons”. Coach Farnham taught that you could push kids to the limits without
using profanity. He taught that a persons worth was based on who they were and not
on what they could achieve on the field. Paul got the opportunity to play for coach
Farnham, coach for him and coach against him. Along each road coach Farnham never
missed the opportunity to pour into Paul, whether in good times or bad. In fact,
Paul says that it was in the bad times that coach Farnham did his best teaching.
You know our life is a story told to all we come in contact with. I wonder what
story my life is telling?
It was during one of the toughest times of coach Farnham’s life that Paul learned
the most. While Paul was a senior on coach Farnham's football team he learned that
his favorite coach had been unexpectedly fired. Frustrated, bitter and confused,
Paul went to Coach Farnham to receive fuel for his anger yet what he received was
solace and peace. Somewhat confused, coach Farnham simply stated to Paul, “In the
life of eternity, what does it really matter”? Coach Farnham spoke and lived these
words no matter the challenges he would face in life.
In 2007, coach Farnham would face his toughest challenge yet. Coach Farnham was
told he had a fatal illness and at only 57 years old with a lot of life yet to live,
he continued to impact those who encountered him. Lying on his death bed, just a
few months later, he simply told Paul, “God has all the answers”.
After 23 years of coaching football Paul has and never will forget the life lessons
instilled into him from Coach Farnham. The impact of Coach Farnham’s life on Paul
and many others will be felt until the end of time. We never know the impact our
lives may have on others. May we go and impact our world, because in the life of
eternity it really does matter!
….And yes Coach Farnham, as you have already found out, God does have all the answers!
In loving memory of Coach David Farnham
October 24, 1950-November 28, 2007