Did that really happen?
Were you ever in a situation where one moment you were on a mountaintop and the next moment in a valley? Did you ever do what you thought was a right thing and have it backfire on you? Either way, you were asking yourself if that really had just happened to you.
Consider these two incidents and think about how you would have reacted.
A senior golfer from Eugene (OR) Church Hill High School was, no doubt, on a mountaintop last week. She had just shot a 3-under par 69 and finished as winner of the state championship by 9 strokes. It was an historic victory because she had won the championship the past three years and this fourth state championship would make her the first golfer, male or female, to have ever achieved this feat in Oregon.
All she had to do was sign her scorecard to make it official. She signed it—and fell from the mountaintop to the valley.
By rule, a player’s official scorecard is kept by her playing partner. The girl’s playing partner mistakenly credited her with a par instead of a bogey on the final hole. Before she noticed the error, she had already signed the scorecard. Thus, she had signed an incorrect scorecard and by rule was disqualified.
Gone were the state championship and her place in Oregon high school golf history. No recourse was available to change what had happened. The runner-up was declared the winner. Ironically, she is a freshman and thus has the opportunity, however unlikely, to become the first ever to win four state championships.
In Cleveland, OH, the same week a man who reached out of his car window and handed a couple of bucks to a man in a wheelchair now finds he is facing a fine and court costs that could total $500.
The man was exiting from an interstate highway when he spotted a pale, thin man in a wheelchair. He was holding a sign with a religious sentiment and a request for help. The driver said he enjoys being able to give to others and especially to those physically challenged. He has a brother who is paralyzed and like the man on the exit ramp is in a wheelchair. So, he pulled a couple of bucks from his wallet, rolled the money up, and reached out to hand it to the man in the wheelchair. As the exchange was made one of the bills fell to the ground. The man bent over and picked it up.
Moments later, the driver said, he was pulled over by a Cleveland police officer and informed that he was being ticketed for littering. The offense was listed on the ticket as “Throw paper out window” and in parenthesis, “money to panhandler.” Police said they can’t comment on the ticket, but a spokesman said there is a code making it illegal to panhandle or to give money to panhandlers near a highway or street. The man said that was not what he was ticketed for; he was cited for littering from a motor vehicle. The spokesman told him he would have to “take it up with the courts.”
The man admits that the experience has left him disheartened and destroyed his joy and willingness to give money to those in need.
While you and I likely have not faced either of these situations, we may have encountered a situation in which we felt like we had plunged from a mountaintop to the valley or in which we felt falsely or incorrectly accused.
How we handle such situations says something about our character and how our professed beliefs play out in our life experiences. To those observing us, our actions in those circumstances will speak more convincingly about the validity of our Christianity than will our words.