We have all learned of Don James passing recently. He was one of the most honored men that have coached University of Washington football since the school’s inception. Many do not know how he continued to coach men in his later years.
Kathryn and I visited four years ago a community next door to where we were vacationing in the Coachella Valley in California. It was an open house of a large community and after the “tour” we were invited out on a large community patio where we could meet other “Washington people”. We were directed to a table and sat down with Don and Carol James. The Coach certainly had a “presence” and after years of watching him on the field we wondered how we could be placed at their same table. Many people were coming up talking “football”.
But our conversation quickly turned to his living community and then swiftly went to Church fellowship in the valley. We ended up sharing a lot of experiences in Christian fellowship including attending the same Church. Both he and Carol seemed to “light up” as the conversation turned to how the Lord has directed our journeys in life and the leading of others.
You see, Carole and Don moved to the valley to “retire” with other friends in what many considered a very safe way of living; behind security, large walls, and a closed community. It was safe and there was a lot of camaraderie with neighbors and friends, especially on the golf course. Don said, “We have everything you could want here; a small grocery store, three restaurants and lots of activities. We don’t have to leave the place!”
One of his favorite activities was his men’s bible study group consisting of many UW alumni. I could tell this group had been together for years (we met a couple of the guys) and strong relationships had been built though the years.
Then Don’s eyes got wide as he said: “We realized we have been cooped up in this compound for years, it’s time we get out into community and serve! I am pressing for this to happen and our group feels the Lord is leading us this way.” Don was passionate about this and it was a joy seeing the Lord work in the later years of his life. The last we heard the men were reaching out to the community and getting out of those four walls.
Don was still leading men. He was still coach. He had only one playbook now and that was the Word. God’s playing field is huge and in his final years Don directed others on that field. His life had a living purpose.
It’s the same way, I pray, I go out of this life. My hope it’s the same for you; for the Lord has a purpose for your life that transcends anything you think you can accomplish by yourself. Join Him and see what happens!