Did I ever tell you about the time the deputy sheriff brought me home one night? It was a pretty dramatic affair. In case you don’t know it, I grew up in a pretty small town, and, let’s be honest, a lot of times the reason teenagers get into trouble is because they’re just. plain. bored.

Now I’m not sure where my girlfriends were on this particular evening, but for some reason I was hanging out with a bunch of guys from my neighborhood/school. And I suppose it was summer time and one of the guys had water balloons. We discussed the idea of having a water balloon fight, but I don’t think anyone really wanted to get smashed in the face with a water balloon and spend the rest of the evening soaking wet.

So somebody came up with another…bright idea.

{I interrupt myself to explain: One of the guys hanging in this group was one of the only guys I can think of from my senior-year-circle-of-friends who really seemed to take the idea of walking with Jesus seriously. I’m quite sure he’s still walking with the Lord today.}

That bright idea?

Let’s drive around town and throw water balloons at each other’s cars. And, at other cars, too.


{Glad we didn’t hit this car… Strand, South Africa, 2010}

I’m gonna be completely honest here and say I knew that was stupid. And could possibly get us in a heap of trouble. But when you’re in high school there must be some kind of chip loose in your brain — the one that begins to draw the worst-case-scenario logical conclusion of how bad this could end up. Was my chip loose or was I just too interested in having fun to pay attention? I can’t really remember.

But all of us — except the guy who took Jesus seriously — piled into a car to go for a water-balloon throwing drive. The car was one seat short, and the Jesus-guy graciously {hello, wisdom!} decided he would follow us in his own car.

Some wise little whisper told me I should’ve gotten in his car. But I of course ignored that voice. Girls just wanna have fun, right?

I was sitting in the middle of the back seat and did not hit any oncoming traffic with balloons, if I remember correctly. I’m a little hazy on that detail, but pretty sure I had terrible aim and wasn’t allowed to try because it would’ve been a waste of a perfectly good water balloon.. But what I do remember very clearly was that the second or third car we hit? Was a police car.

More specifically, we hit the deputy sheriff’s car. At fifty miles per hour. Going in the opposite direction.

We were coming along a curve on a dark country road, and the water-balloon thrower (who was also driving — were we honestly complete idiots?) only realized after launching the balloon what had happened. That moment went something like this:

Expletive!* That was a cop!

We sped down the road to a friend’s house, where there were lots of people hanging out. We all parked, abandoned the car, and did what any sensible teenager would do at this point.

We hid.

I think the wise friend who saw what had happened just kept right on driving. I don’t think he’d thrown a balloon at anybody (except maybe our car) that evening.

When the deputy sheriff arrived and began questioning things, the guys came forward and admitted what they had done. I also came forward and admitted to being in the car at the time, but that I hadn’t hit any cars with balloons.

I’ll have to email the guys to ask them what happened after that, because the only thing I can remember is the cop putting me in his car and Driving. Me. Home.

And what made that even worse?

My grandmother was at our house that evening. And I was more than just embarrassed. I was also grounded. For a couple of weeks at least.

Well done, I sarcastically say to that younger version of myself. Well done.

This morning I was reading in Proverbs 13, when verse 20 jumped out at me:

Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble.

Hey, Wisdom, there you are!

I definitely had a choice that evening — the same sort of choice we have on a regular basis — about who I would keep company with. If I’d stuck with ‘the wise guy’ I would quite literally not have gotten in trouble. I’m not saying the rest of the guys were absolutely foolish idiots, but I am saying we were being pretty foolish in our decision making process.

When I think about it now — we totally could have caused an accident, someone could’ve gotten hurt, or even killed. Did that thought occur to me at the time? Of course not. We’re young…nothing bad ever happens when you’re young, right?

Let me interject that we absolutely have a call to be salt and light in this world — and I am not negating that fact in the least. But it is also important for us to be thoughtful about which relationships we pursue. Are your friends helping you become a better person? Or maybe just a better consumer or partier or sports fan?

This even applies to what we take in with regard to media and social media. Do you have some friends that are always posting rubbish on Facebook that you need to “unsubscribe” to? Blogs you should stop reading? Are there TV shows or movies you’re watching that are probably not going to do much more than lower your IQ? Should you be picking up a good book {read: not a trashy novel} instead?

{Maybe you could be getting in the Good Word a little more? …Wisdom!!}

You probably get my drift.

An integral part of living out our faith is sharing it with those who don’t yet know the goodness of God in their lives, don’t yet have the wisdom of God at the steering wheel of their lives. But our lives should be marked by the grace of God — and by His wisdom, which He gives freely to those who ask. {James 1:5} (If you are a follower of Jesus, do you think the world can tell the difference?)

The truth is, riding in the car with the boys wasn’t the wisest decision I ever made. If you’re not looking for wisdom, foolishness will usually find you.


*Wording has been changed for sensitive readers.