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Lessons from the day I never planned for.

I didn’t plan on being in the middle of an armed robbery that day. I didn’t plan on staring down the barrel of a sawed off shotgun with a guy yelling, “Hit the ground!”, when I clocked into the grocery store that night. All I planned

that day was to finish my shift and go home to sleep.

Nobody plans on being a life or death situation so I never had a chance to ask the questions that someone usually asks, in a life or death situation. Questions like: “How can I die this young?” (I was only 20 at the time) “Why didn’t I follow my dreams?” “Why didn’t I have any dreams?” “Why did I always play it so safe? Why was I so afraid to take risks?”

I never had a girlfriend because I was afraid of rejection. I never moved out of my family's house because it was too comfortable. I didn’t join the football team because my mom told me that I would get hurt. I never flew on an airplane because my father, who built airplanes for a living, said that they would crash.

And I didn’t ask the most important question of all… “If I die tonight, would I go to heaven or hell? Honestly, I really wasn’t asking myself any of these questions at that moment. The only question in my mind was, “Am I going to make it home tonight?”

But that night I learned two valuable things: First, I didn’t have a dream for my life so I realized that I needed to get one NOW! Secondly, having followed my fear for so long, I needed to make a decision, NOW!, to live by faith and not by fear. Living my life in fear would only prevent me from doing great things with my life.

Shortly after the robbery, something clicked and I was never the same! I became a Christian and got a dream to spend the rest of my life helping other people change their lives. I changed my career path and became a minister. Since then, I have moved 19 times in the past 30 years following God’s calling. I have flown in airplanes countless times, and not one of them crashed. And I married an amazing woman who’s been my partner in crime for the last 19 years.

Today, at 51 years of age, I continue to dream big, currently planning to leave my comfortable life in the United States and move to another country to spend the remainder of my life helping others. But I still have bouts of fear...of getting hurt or being rejected, even my plane crashing. And when I do, I go back to that day… That day when I didn’t plan on being in a robbery or having a shotgun shoved down my face...and I remember the lessons that I have learned. And I tell myself a quote from my my favorite movie, “Dead Poets Society”:

“Carpe Diem, seize the day boys, make your life extraordinary!”

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