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  • Writer's pictureJonny Nelson

Missed Opportunity at a Skatepark in Texas

All the kids gathered around to watch as a boy named Mario, who looked about 14 years old, began rolling up to the 11 stair handrail at a random skatepark in Texas. I was hyped because it cleared the busy park out for awhile so I could skate some lines I wanted. He skidded to a stop on his skateboard a few times and then stuck a solid board slide down the massive set. Everyone cheered at their hometown hero, slapping their boards on the pavement. A few minutes later he landed a clean 50-50 down the rail and then the crowd dispersed. It wasn’t long before one of Mario’s friends was betting money on his ability to get a trick first try on a 6 stair hubba. Skating a ledge nearby I began to listen in on their boisterous conversation. Protecting his pride and prestige Mario made a few off color comments about his challengers girlfriend. They laughed together and the boy persisted with the bet. Mario gave in going for a simple krooked grind down the hubba and fell. All his friends laughed and his pride was shattered. He laughed it off in astonishment, looked at me and said, “why is it that I can stick front 50 on the eleven stair and then fall on something so stupid!” Clearly looking for my praise and recognition, I smiled and said, “That’s just how it goes sometimes!” His friend bet him on another trick which he landed perfectly and his cocky persona was immediately back. Mario clearly had talent on a skateboard and the confidence to go big. He had an incredible amount of influence on every kid at the park. They revered him and he loved it. He would even use their admiration to put them down and further boost his ego. He was missing a huge opportunity to be a positive role model for so many. He was blowing it! I thought about pointing out how his talent gave him responsibility to be a good influence. I wanted him to know that he could be such a positive guy, building others up and bringing a positive vibe to the park. But I never said anything more to him. As I thought more about the situation, I realized it wouldn’t matter. Mario is dead and dead people are incapable of doing anything without first being brought to life. Dead people can’t change, they can’t produce the good things that God wants in our lives. Ephesians 2 says that we either are or we were ‘dead in our trespasses and sin’. I could have told Mario to be a more positive dude, but it would have been useless because he doesn’t have the capacity to do so! I missed a great opportunity to share the gospel. I blew it! The one person who can give Mario life is Jesus. The only way for Mario to become a positive influence on his friends is for him to be first be made alive in Christ Jesus. I wanted to encourage him to be a positive influence yet I didn’t. The greatest tragedy is that I held the key to life and never shared Jesus with him. Don’t miss opportunities like I did and never forget that good values and positivity are not a substitute for Christ.

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