The following is an excerpt from a book I just read called “Does Your Bag Have Holes?. The book was sent to me by the author Cameron C. Taylor, and is an excellent read (I'll be doing a review shortly). This chapter on choices and consequences was an especially good one, and I thought I'd share it here with the author's permission.
I Choose the Consequences of My Actions
While speaking at a prison to a group of the inmates, I asked for a volunteer from the inmates to describe his dream life. After a long pause and some prodding, one of the inmates began to speak. I was rather surprised by his vivid description of a successful career, a beautiful home, and a loving, happy family.
I then asked, “Why are you in prison?”
The inmate responded, “For drugs.”
I then asked if drugs would take him away from or toward the dream life he described. I will never forget his response, “I can have both.”
I replied by saying, “What would happen if you touched a hot stove with your bare hand?”
The inmate replied, “I would get burned.”
I continued, “What if you don’t want to get burned? Can you just choose to touch a hot stove and not get burned?” He, of course, answered no.
I then taught that we can choose whether or not to touch a hot stove, but we cannot decide whether or not we get burned. We can choose our actions, but we cannot choose the consequences of our choices. Getting burned is a natural consequence of touching a hot stove just like a prison sentence is the consequence of being involved with illegal drugs.
To this the inmate replied, “I am in prison, have no money, am divorced, and rarely see my kids. If you’re so smart, how do I change this?”
I answered, “You need to learn and live divine laws.”
The inmate replied, “What do you mean?”
I continued, “Our lives are governed by divine laws, such as gravity. A child, though ignorant of the law, will still fall if he jumps off a ledge and will still get burned if he touches a hot stove. The divine laws that govern wealth, health, relationships, and our spirits are as clear and as binding as those that govern the earth, such as gravity. Regardless of whether or not we know or understand divine laws, they always operate the same. Our success or failure, our happiness or unhappiness, depends on our knowledge and application of these laws in our lives.”
The inmate then asked, “So why are some people rich and some poor?”
I replied, “Why are some people physically fit and others overweight?” I explained that people’s health differs because they have made different choices. Consider someone with a lot of money who is also overweight. This person has learned to live financial laws but does not live the laws of health. Something similar could be said about someone who is in great shape and is poor. They have learned to live the laws of health but not the laws of wealth. The great news is that you can be successful in all areas of your life by living the divine laws related to each area.
The inmate then asked, “You are obviously successful—can I achieve success?”
In response, I asked the inmate to climb on the table he was sitting at and I climbed onto the table at the front of the room. I then said, “On the count of three, jump off the table. One, two, three.” We both jumped off the table and hit the floor. I continued teaching that the law of gravity affected both of us the same regardless of age, gender, race, or upbringing. This is also true of the laws of success. They are the same now as they were in the past and will be the same in the future. Our knowledge about these laws may fluctuate, but their principles and application will never change. Anyone can be successful, because anyone can learn and follow the laws of success.
God has blessed all men with liberty. This great freedom of choice is what determines who we will become. All men are born equal but become unequal as they make decisions. Every man chooses to obey laws differently. One may choose to play softball while another chooses to build a business. One may choose to turn on the television while another chooses to read books. One may choose to golf on his day off while another chooses to spend time with his family. One man chooses to listen to the radio on his way to work and another man chooses to listen to positive tapes. We are born equal, yet years later live diversely, all because we chose to live divine laws differently. It is really very simple. Following divine laws results in positive outcomes.
A prison guard then asked, “How much money did you make last year?”
I replied, “How much money did you make last year?”
The guard replied, “$30,000.”
I then answered his question by saying, “I made ten times more than you did last year. Do you think I am ten times smarter than you or ten times better than you?”
The guard thought about the question and replied, “No, you are not ten times smarter or better than me.”
To make my point clear, I continued, “There is no difference between you and me. I have just learned certain financial principles. There are certain principles for success in a marriage, there are certain principles for spiritual success, and there are certain principles for success in finance. If one desires to, one can dramatically increase his or her income by learning and applying the laws of wealth.”
Years later, I was at a chamber of commerce meeting and recognized the inmate I had spoken with at the prison. He approached me and said, “Thank you so much for visiting me in prison; your message changed my life. I always wondered why some men had great lives while mine was miserable. I saw people with successful careers, beautiful homes, and happy families and wondered why my life was just the opposite. Once I learned that there were divine laws to success, my heart was filled with hope and peace. I realized that all I had to do was learn these laws and then have courage, discipline, and the guts to obey them. Once I realized this, I knew that I would one day live in the home of my dreams, have no debt, and be a hero to my wife and children. It has been a long road but I have transformed my life from one of bondage, and misery to one of freedom and prosperity.”
Tomorrow, we'll continue the chapter with a look at:
Divine Law—Choice and Consequence