Posted: 4/27/19 at 8:00am. Column by Ed Jordan.
We have all heard that cats always land on their feet. It is not a myth. Cats have a “righting reflex” which begins at around one month of age and is perfected within weeks. Apparently they can do this because of an extremely flexible backbone and no fixed clavicle. It is an interesting phenomenon.
I have had several friends who seem to be able to do this with their livelihoods. They can suffer the loss of one job or position and soon have another—usually better. Using another analogy, we often say that some people have the Midas touch, because everything they touch turns to gold.
I want to give some consideration to the thought of being able to always land on our feet in our decision-making processes. How do we keep our life from imploding? How do we avoid catastrophic outcomes to a decision? Is it possible? Can we develop a character or spiritual “righting reflex” so that such decisions can be made in a timely manner?
One of the things that factors into a cat’s righting reflex must also be that they constantly know which direction is up and which direction is down. I think that this is the starting point for all of us who wish to have a decision-righting reflex. We need to know what is right and wrong, what is up or down, so that we don’t have to think twice about what is the correct choice.
One way we can do this is to read and memorize lots of Bible verses, which God reveals to us as pertinent to having and maintaining integrity. God speaks to us through his Spirit, who lives inside every person who has entrusted their life to Jesus and invited him to come live within them.
We read in John 14:26 (ESV): “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” So if we saturate our minds and hearts with the words of Jesus, he will be able to alert us instantly to the right thing to decide in any particular situation. If something is contrary to what Jesus lived or taught, then we shouldn’t choose that option.
Another tool we have to help us develop character in our lives, and in the lives of our kids, is to learn wisdom from the book of Proverbs. One simple way to do this is to read a chapter of Proverbs each day, corresponding with the day of the month, and underline verses that God uses to speak to you about practical life decisions.
As these become more and more a part of our lives, it helps establish and reinforce our spiritual and character “righting reflex.” You will be amazed at how much practical wisdom and advice you will find in the book of Proverbs, on subjects like finances, investing, character, raising children, choosing friends, controlling your tongue, dealing with anger, and general interpersonal relationship advice. As you discover truths that will help your kids, find ways to communicate that advice to them and explore ways they can develop that skill in their lives.
Many of us turn to God for advice in important decisions we are facing, and this is great. But we also need to develop a godly character in our lives and in our kids’ lives that gives us all a consistent character pattern which will kick into action when we are facing unexpected decisions that don’t give us time to go look up Bible verses or seek the advice of others.
We need to develop an internal moral compass that constantly directs us to which way is up and which way is down and to habitually respond to temptations out of our internal reservoir of consistently godly ethics flowing from God’s indwelling Spirit and the words of Jesus within us.
We need to develop this ethical righting reflex today and in each day of our lives. It is a little like learning to drive via experience and thus being able to quickly react appropriately within seconds of a presented danger.
One never knows when his or her life will suddenly be thrown into the air, and we need to know instinctively how to land on our feet. This is only possible by God’s grace and by developing an internal gyroscope for continual autonomic adjustments to our character’s stability and veracity. Active, consistent godly character will help us land on our feet when that is unexpectedly required of us.