Just the other day I was having lunch with one of our staff guys and I noticed for the first time that he had a tattoo on his arm. Whenever I see someone with a tattoo, I find myself drawn to ask about it. I do this because I’ve noticed that every tattoo seems to tell a story. Discussing tattoos is a great way to learn about someone.
So this particular guy, Kevin Ache, is the staff member we have just commissioned to lead our new College and Young Adults Ministry. Anyway, he told me about the design of his tattoo and the story of what it meant to him. All this was interesting, but then he said something that I haven’t been able to get out of my mind…
I asked him if he ever thought he might regret getting a tattoo, since it will be with him for the rest of his life (a common sentiment from someone who has never opted to have a tattoo!) He then told me the story behind the story.
It seems that when he designed the actual tattoo, before he had it permanently inked onto his arm, he made up a bunch of copies of it and placed them all around him. He put a copy of it on his mirror, in (yes, IN, not ON!) his refrigerator, in his wallet, on his computer – in all sorts of places where he was bound to see it unexpectedly. He gave a copy of it to his mom and dad as well to measure their reaction. Then he waited for a while… actually a long while to see if he would get sick of seeing it. How long… a full year!
And that has left a lasting impression on me.
What if all of our decisions were this well thought through? It seems to me that too many of us make decisions without counting the cost or considering the consequences such a decision will have on the rest of our lives. In other words, we leap, and then we look.
We decide to lie, or to cheat, or to have an affair, or go in debt, or quit our job, or take an unethical short cut, or involve ourselves in any number of questionable things–thinking all the while that somehow our decision will never catch up with us. In other words, we really don’t think of the long term consequences of our actions. Yet our decisions always have a way of catching up with us. Why? Because decisions always have consequences!
In Luke 14:28-33 Jesus was very clear that wisdom suggests one always count the cost before one makes a decision. The bigger the decision, the more thought is required. This is the way to live without regret. Only a fool would do otherwise.
I wonder if there is a way to get this story tattooed on my arm? This bit of wisdom is something I need to be reminded of every day for the rest of my life.