Quality Decisions and Skateboards
By Lane R Johnson
I sat glued to the television. On the screen a 17 year old male, bare headed and determined, was perched on the ridge of a two-story roof overlooking a lower slope covering the first floor. He seemed focused, which was probably the right mindset, because he was standing on a skateboard.
Before I could gasp my incredulity, he had begun his rocket ride to the ground. The second floor slope went fast but successfully and he even negotiated the jump to the lower level, but somewhere about halfway to the end, he and the skateboard parted company and the balance of the ride concluded with him crashing abruptly onto the pavement below. The good news is that he survived this heroic feat and eventually was able to discuss it coherently with the interviewer that had hosted his moment in the sun.
“Why did you decide to attempt this extraordinary exploit?” he was asked. “It just seemed like a good idea at the time,” he replied.
In recent years I have begun to realize that my life is the sum total of all my individual decisions. Some of the decisions have been inspired and wise, like the one that involved marrying my wife Sandy; others have been less desirable, like the one which involved tarping a roof in the rain, but no less effective in impacting my life. I have walked with a limp ever since that fateful day.
When I was 17 the horizon was endless and the sky was blue. I was ten feet tall and completely bullet proof. Consequences were not only ignored, they weren’t even part of my thought process. If I had possessed a skateboard, that could have been me on the roof. Bad decisions like those are born out of a complete sense of invincibility. Not a useful mindset when making life and death choices.
Pure male mindlessness is not the only thing that produces bad decisions. Let’s also not forget sheer stupidity.
Each decision, each choice, ultimately defines that overall direction my life is taking. Some decisions can be life changing like Mr. Skateboard. Right decisions, however, lead me to God’s purpose. They do this not as a result of an alter moment, but through the cumulative impact of quality choices which ultimately define the path of my life. The wonderful grace attached to this whole decision thing is the fact that it is never too late to begin making quality decisions, to begin following God’s methods.
Often when I struggle with choices and am tempted by avenues that appear to offer relief to pressures and obligations, I do what any wise man will do: I ask my wife. She will usually ask me one of three things. Is it good for your soul? Does it help fulfill your calling? How does it impact the family?
Sometimes what benefits our soul is pain and disappointment; sometimes failure causes me to be qualified to lead. Sometimes the family will be best served by a father that is broken and contrite. See my point: stupid decisions are easy, but quality ones take input from God.
Here are two more things that you might find helpful. Just because you’re fearless, doesn’t mean you’re wise. Stop skating down buildings because, “. . .it seems like a good idea.” Sometimes consequences like rapidly approaching concrete are valuable to consider.
Finally, if your life is defined by truly horrible choices, it is time to re-evaluate who is driving the bus. God does not make poor choices; if He is defining the values He will determine the direction.