Keith Wishum: Just my luck

Published 5:00 pm Monday, May 2, 2016

A convenience store robber was almost immediately apprehended as he attempted to make his getaway. He was driving a tractor-trailer rig — hardly the vehicle of choice for an inconspicuous escape. Even worse, the truck had a name painted on it — his name!
Was his misfortune the result of bad luck? Or very bad choices? As a probation officer for juvenile court, I once supervised young men who had committed a variety of crimes. Most of them blamed bad luck for their downfall. That’s much easier on the ego than admitting, “Hey, I was stupid.”
One client rode his bicycle by a female jogger and pinched her posterior as he passed. The off-duty police officer snatched him from his bike and had him chewing turf as she recited his rights. “Just my luck,” he said later, “that she’d be cop.”  Bad luck, or bad choice?
Another had broken his arm in a skateboarding accident. A week later, the cast was gone. It had gotten hot and scratchy, so he cut it off with his pocketknife. He even took the metal screws out of his arm himself. Months later, when he couldn’t straighten his arm he wondered,  “Why’d this have to happen to me?” Was it bad luck?
Many factors contributed to the plights of those young men. But the hard truth is that most of their problems resulted from foolish choices. It’s hard to face, but many of our problems do, too.
Marriages don’t disintegrate by accident. Jobs aren’t usually lost by the luck of the draw. Friendships don’t die without reason. Mountains of debt don’t come from volcanic eruptions. Mostly, we make our own messes.
The good news is that the God who designed us also provided an instruction manual to help us run smoothly and avoid bad decisions. Listen to what he offers. “Keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity … Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man” (Proverbs 3:1-4).
Prosperity. Popularity. Happy families. Health and long life. These are the benefits God promises if we follow his instructions. Chaos and calamity come from ignoring those instructions.
Will we trust our luck, or God’s wisdom? As someone said, “Depend on the rabbit’s foot if you will, but remember it did not work for the rabbit.”

Keith Wishum is minister, Williams Road Church of Christ, Americus.