The mail came at precisely 1:03 yesterday afternoon. But wait, let me put it all in context…
In 1993, 28 years ago, when Cheri’s folks were barely 60, they decided create a legal instrument that would leave an inheritance to each of their four children. It was an irrevocable life insurance trust, and after years of successful farming, they were in the position to “make it happen,” as they say. For some strange reason, they asked me to be the trustee of the trust. It didn’t seem like a great burden or anything, and I was glad they trusted me to be a trustee. (You could have a lot of fun with those words…)
For almost three decades, then, I have had a checking account opened wherever we lived, and four times a year, I deposited a check that Cheri’s folks wrote to the trust, and then as the trustee, I would turn around and pay that same amount to the life insurance folks when the statement came to me. It just took a bit of banking work, and I made sure that it was paid on time, and so it worked out pretty well.
About half way into the 28 years, as we were all together, Cheri’s dad remarked about the exorbitant amount they had to pay to the lawyer four times a year as they sent out four – only four letters to the four children. Apparently, when you have that kind of trust, whenever money is deposited into the trust, the eventual inheritors have the privilege of taking their cut of the money if they were so inclined. Of course, to do that really screws up the fund, and since it was set up to provide an inheritance to them in the first place, it would have been dumb to do so. And Cheri and her siblings are relatively nice people… anyway, whenever they would send me a check, the lawyer wrote each of the siblings – called a Crummy Notice – that they had to acknowledge and send back a signature saying they didn’t want to take money out. It’s a perfect example of banking and insurance law that just makes things more complicated than need be, but it also meant that the lawyer charged Cheri’s folks tons of money to send those four form letters out and receive the reply.
So, I made the simple suggestion that, since I was the trustee, I could just send the letters out (I had the form letter already), and get their signatures whenever I sent the check in to the insurance company. We followed all the legal mumbo jumbo, and saved Cheri’s folks plenty of money. What a great son-in-law they have!
Well, a couple of years ago, Cheri’s dad died, which made no difference in the trust, but it meant that Cheri’s mom was financially responsible for it all. Still not a problem, and we figured out, since that trust had grown so well, that quarterly there was more than enough interest to pay the statement without paying in extra money. It just meant that when the statement came around, as the trustee, I would write the agent and ask for the premium to be paid out of the interest, and they would send me a form, and I’d send it back, and that worked out well.
Like I said, this went on for 28 years, beginning on August 9, 1993. Exactly 28 years to the day, this past August 9, Cheri’s mom died. Suddenly I realized that as a trustee, everything now changed. Now, instead of just taking care of the billing, I was responsible for how the actual claim on the contract would happen. After a NUMBER of calls to the insurance agent – I came to the conclusion that they must rather like receiving money, than paying it out – they told me last Thursday that “the check is in the mail,” and that I should watch for it. Please understand: it was a BIG check that was going through the US Postal Service. I wasn’t sure whether to watch it as a piece of certified mail, or insured of registered, or overnight or whatever, and I also didn’t know from where it was coming. It seemed a bit large to just be written out of the insurance agent’s checking account…
So back to the beginning. I was sitting at my desk yesterday when the mail truck zoomed up to our mailbox, and then zoomed away. It was, as I mentioned 1:03pm. Sure enough, when I got the mail, there was a letter from the insurance company, and at the bottom of the second page, there was the largest check I have ever made out to me. This was not something I wanted to just fold up and jam in my back pocket – I needed to get to the bank, open up a new account, and have at least part of the money covered under the FDIC.
1:03pm. Guess what time the bank closes on Saturdays? You got it – 1:00pm. That meant I had until the doors unlock on Monday morning a big ol’ uncashed check sitting on my desk! Not comfortable! I know now why I’m not a diamond dealer… But come Monday, it goes in the bank, four other checks get written, and that pretty much completes my responsibility as trustee of this fund, at least. Of course, since I must have the most honest face in the family, over time I’ve been consecrated as trustee of two other trusts, that will probably never run out.
You know, when you are a little kid, and someone asks you what you want to do when you grow up, I doubt any of us would answer, “Oh, I want to be named the trustee of a big ol’ life insurance trust! And to do that for 28 years!” There are things that happen in our lives that we simply can’t imagine happening, until they happen. I’ve always thought my life to be pretty simple, except as I look back, it has involved me in so many more things than I could ever dream of happening. Some of those, like marrying Cheri or raising two great sons, are dreams come true. There are other things, however, that, like you, make life far more complicated and even confusing, and demand stepping out in faith when not all the data is available. I remember watching a video once that was a spoof, but meant to motivate. It looked like a long commercial, where the people interviewed were in the air at about 20,000 feet, and were assembling the jet airliner they were flying in! The first line is, “Some people like to climb mountains – I like to build planes – while they are flying…”
That really a lot of what our life is about, isn’t it? Sometimes we simply have to learn while we live and take on the challenges, responsibilities and joys that are before us. We don’t have to live perfectly – I believe we simply have to dare to live with abundance and hope and commitment. That’s the life of faith, and the life God offers you each day.
Saying for the day: “Challenge yourself with something you know you could never do, and what you will find is that you can overcome anything.” Anonymous.
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.