Stunt Moves and Sensibility

I’m in my old college town today and I’m flashing back to a memory from that era. It’s spring of my senior year. My friends and I jump into Dave’s SUV, a Toyota Forerunner, if I’m remembering it right. Our school is in a rural area, and one of the few available eatery options is the Gas City Pizza Hut. After dinner, Dave is barreling down the rolling country road and, just for fun, accelerates as he approaches the bump that is the train tracks. I don’t know how fast we were going, but there was enough speed to get the vehicle completely airborne. It was glorious.

The next week, it’s my turn to drive. We go to the very same Pizza Hut and on the way home, I attempt the very same stunt. The problem? I’m not driving a Forerunner. I’m piloting a ’91 Olds Cutlass Calais. I monitor my speed to get the same effect Dave got and yes, I manage to get all four wheels off the ground. But the landing is less than ideal. The car bottoms out with the violent sound of steel grinding asphalt. I pull over, check for damage and, finding none, continue our way back to campus.

Fast forward two months later. I’ve graduated and am working my first real full-time job in Detroit. In the heat of the summer, my “Low Coolant light” goes on. I buy some coolant, pop the hood, top off the container and keep driving. Two days later, it goes on again. This continues for longer than it should. Eventually, I bring the car into the shop. After the mechanic looks at it, he calls me and asks “What did you do with your car? It looks like something clawed and shredded your coolant hoses.” Because I was clueless, I honestly confess I had no idea what had happened.

I was frustrated. I didn’t have $400 to burn on the car repair when I was just getting settled into a new living situation. It wasn’t until months later that I finally put it together. There wasn’t anyone to blame for my misfortunate but myself. God never asked me to jump those Indiana train tracks with my car. But I did. And there was only myself to blame.

Proverbs 19:3 says, “People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the Lord.”

There are no shortages of foolish choices that can derail our lives. Reckless decisions with money, sex, relationships, parenting and power unravel marriages, families, careers and corporations.

Whenever I’ve been guilty of making unwise choices, I never paused to ask God for perspective. Yet, when I’m faced with negative consequences of my actions down the line, I’m tempted to blame God for my plight. The fact is: God had nothing to do with it. In fact, out of respect for my free will, God often passes on the opportunity to interrupt my own cause/ effect, action/consequence, sow/reap loop.

So, the next time I’m tempted to shake my fist at God from a set of circumstances I don’t like, I need to hit pause and rewind. Is this a random unfortunate scenario? Or is it the result of less than wise decisions I made somewhere along the way?

Craig Custance