When I was about 9-years-old, my friend Josh asked me to go with him and his dad to a basketball game at Centenary College in Shreveport, Louisiana. I had never been to a college game of any sort, and I was a huge basketball fan, so I got pretty excited.
We arrived early, got the tickets, walked to our seats, and stared googly-eyed at the players as they warmed up. The funny thing about looking back at this particular memory is that this wasn’t exactly a Duke vs. North Carolina rivalry game with a loaded arena of rabid, crazy fans. The “Gold Dome” was packed at about 5% capacity. There might have been 800 people there.
But this was college basketball! These guys might as well have been Michael Jordan as far as I was concerned.
Shortly before tipoff, it came over me. I was starving. I’m not sure if I would’ve been starving if I hadn’t taken a 10-second gander at the concession stand on the way in, but now I wanted some nachos, and I wanted them badly. I had a craving that couldn’t be satiated by 10 basketball players whose talent levels were somewhere between okay and decent.
So I did it. I ran to the concession stand, picked up my nachos, and ran back down to our seats. I was a jittery, awkward little kid (not much has changed except for my height), so I wanted to spend as little time as possible without the company of my friend and/or his dad. I needed familiar faces.
I picked up that first nacho, dipped it in the extra cheese, and…
…started gasping wildly. The cheese, unbeknownst to me, was jalapeno flavored. I’m picky today, but you should’ve known me as a kid. I was the pickiest person alive (a role now filled by my eldest nephew), and jalapenos were not on my accepted foods list.
I had to take the nachos back to the stand and get it swapped for something a little less flame inducing, and I had to go…alone.
I took my nachos, walked down the front row of the bleaches, turned, and began my rapid ascent back up the stairs. About 3/4 of the way up, I lost my balance, tripped, and fell face-first into the box of nachos. SPLAT!
I shrieked like a little girl the moment that I realized that my eyes were on fire, seared by a jalapeno inferno! I couldn’t open my eyes. I just crawled onto my hands and knees and said, “Help!” in a frantic, subdued tone of voice befitting a terrified, socially inept 9-year-old whose vision was clouded by a sea of yellow.
It must’ve been a pathetic sight to behold, because in a matter of milliseconds, I heard an unfamiliar voice say, “Here, grab my hand. Follow me, fella.”
I didn’t know what to do, but I knew that I couldn’t just sit there. I couldn’t scream Josh’s name either; all that would do was attract more attention to me, which was the last thing I wanted. I’m sure it would’ve been hilarious to most people. I had to trust this guy.
Luckily, he led me straight to the men’s restroom, where I was able to wash the nacho sauce out of my eyes and slowly regain my dignity. He stood several feet away, near the door, and waited patiently until I was finished. He never laughed at me, never poked fun at me, and never expressed any emotion besides concern and compassion.
He asked me if I was okay, so I nodded and thanked him. He just smiled and walked away. I didn’t know his name. I never saw him again.
I was lucky that day. First of all, I was lucky that someone offered to help me find my way to the restroom. Secondly, I was lucky that he knew exactly where to go, and he wasted no time in getting me there.
In an instant, my young little life changed drastically. One second, I was a happy kid with nachos at his first college basketball game. The next, I was a blind, terrified little boy who was totally dependent upon the strangers surrounding him.
Fortunes can change on a dime. Mishaps are going to occur, no matter how carefully you live your life. I was fortunate to have a stranger there to guide me; a Good Samaritan, if you will. But how much better would it have been if my friend or his dad would’ve been the ones who saw me stumble and fall? I wouldn’t have been petrified, hoping that a stranger wasn’t a lunatic kidnapper; I would’ve felt safe in the knowledge that I was in capable, trusted hands.
We all need someone to lead us in life whenever we make a misstep. Better yet, we need leaders in our lives who can PREVENT us from making missteps.
I’m fortunate to have good influences that I can rely on in times of indecision, as well as times of misfortune. My dad is the primary mentor in my life, and he just happens to double as my pastor. If I need advice, whether spiritual, financial, ethical, doctrinal, or anything else, I know I can rely on him for wisdom and guidance.
But he’s not the only one I could ask. I can’t think of a member of my family who doesn’t have experience in a particular area of life in which I’m going to need some help at some point. If I need organizational advice, I ask my wife. If I need advice concerning real estate, I’ll likely call my father-in-law. If I need a really funny parody song made up on the fly, I’ll call my brother.
The point is that we all need someone to set us in the right direction. The problem is that people seem to show a decisive lack of wisdom in deciding who to turn to for advice.
The people you choose to lead you should be good people…godly people. They should preferably be older, more seasoned, with a prayer life. Sound advice from someone with God-given wisdom is more valuable than the advice of Oprah. You’ll just have to trust me on that one.
But the people you depend on MUST have the proper perspectives in life. They shouldn’t be someone full of arrogance, thinking they know the right way, but everyone who came before them was (and is) an antiquated relic.
Matthew 15:14 (NIV): “…If a blind man leads a blind man, they will both fall into a pit.”
Make absolutely, 100% sure that the person you’ve placed in a position of authority in your life is someone who’s been directed there by God. Pray for God to give you stable, sensible advisors. Where you end up in 5, 10, or 25 years from now could rely on it.
Don’t depend solely upon yourself. When you fall flat on your face, or when you don’t have any idea as to what direction you need to take in your life…you need someone leading you. If you don’t, you might find yourself in the dark…alone.
…with nachos in your eyes.