Back in 1988 former Vice President Dan Quayle had just been selected as the running mate for George H.W. Bush. Within hours, he faced the most intense media scrutiny of his entire life. One of the questions he was asked that day not only dominated the press conference, but also defined his candidacy and dogged his steps the entire time he served.
The question was why he chose to enter the National Guard and avoid the military draft. His answer serves as a warning to every one of us. He said, “I didn’t know back then that I’d be standing before you today.” In other words, “if I only knew back then what I know now, I would’ve made a different choice.”
History is full of examples of people who wish they’d made different choices.
Former NFL star Lyle Alzado, who played for the Oakland Raiders when they were champs, warned his fellow athletes and the world, as he was dying, to stay away from the use of steroids. A choice he’d made to try to enhance his physical abilities, yet ultimately destroyed them.
Mickey Mantle, who immortalized the number seven playing for the world-renowned New York Yankees and may be the most famous baseball player who ever lived, expressed his regret of years of alcohol abuse at a press conference here in Dallas while waiting for a new kidney. On the eve of his death, Mantle lamented the fact he wished he’d known what damage alcohol was doing to his body all those years and he warned young people, “Don’t be like me.”
Magic Johnson, one of the most physically gifted, charismatic personalities ever to play in the NBA, announced his forced retirement years ago at a news conference seen all over the world. The reason? AIDS. He expressed regret for a promiscuous lifestyle that afforded him virtually every pleasure life could offer, but was prematurely ending his career in professional basketball.
It’s not just the world of sports where regrets happen. It happens in music. Whether your name is Kurt Cobain, Elvis or Whitney Houston. It happens in show business. Whether your name is Chris Farley, Phillip Seymour Hoffman or Robin Williams. It happens in the media. Ask Brian Williams. It happens in the ministry. Ask Mark Driscoll or Tullian Tchividjian. It happens in every walk of life. Even if you’re the President of the United States. Ask Bill Clinton.
Our choices carry consequences; life-altering consequences. Consequences that will affect not only our lives, but also the lives of those around us. People we love and care about it.
God told the Israelites that He’d set before them “life and death, blessing and curses,” and encouraged them to choose life (Deuteronomy 30:19). Joshua challenged his countrymen, “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15). Every day you and I have a series of choices to make. We need to choose wisely, with eternity in mind.
We sure don’t want to get to the end of our lives and say, “If I only knew ...”
Here’s a great choice all of us can make that we’ll never regret: be in worship this Sunday morning.
© 2015. Barry L. Cameron
Barry L. Cameron has been the Senior Pastor of Crossroads since 1992 when the church was averaging 188 in morning worship. Pastor Cameron and his wife, Janis, have three children and two grandsons. He’s the author of the bestseller: The ABCs of Financial Freedom, Contagious Generosity, and The Financial Freedom Workbook. The Cameron family has been completely debt free since November 2001.