Why Inky Johnson Thanks God For Ruining His Career
Inquoris “Inky” Johnson used to play football for the University of Tennessee. But on September 9, 2006, his lifelong plans for the NFL were shattered. During a game against the Air Force, Inky experienced a life-threatening and, ultimately, debilitating injury on the field. He was left with the inability to pursue an athletic career of any kind.
Weaker men would have shaken their fist at God and wallowed in the mire of bitterness. But that’s not how Inky responded to his injury. Even though he wakes up each morning with constant pain and a paralyzed right arm, he smiles and embraces life. That’s the response, not of a weak man, but a meek man. 1
In contrast, I’m the kind of guy who becomes agitated if I get behind a slow driver on the freeway. I can respond poorly when my plans—even my minor plans—aren’t fulfilled.
That’s why I asked Inky, whom I have come to call my friend, to share a little with me, and the readers here at Happier Far, about what it looks like to trust God when all our plans seem to fail. I asked Inky three simple questions. He gave me three amazing answers. I hope they bless and encourage you as much as they have me.
In your book you mention how, when we fail to achieve our dreams, it may not be us failing so much as it is God prevailing. Could you expand on that concept?
My eighth grade mentor once said, “Inky, at the end of the day, God is going to get done what He wants to get done. As hard as you may try to force something to happen or put yourself in the position for something to happen, what God wants to get done is going to get done.”
And so I came up with the approach of, “Okay, I’m going to work as hard as I possibly can in the areas of my life where I’m trying to improve and I am going to try to be intentional about certain things in my life. But when those things don’t work out, is it really me failing if God has a plan for my life?”
If you fail at something I don’t think it’s really making you a failure, because God has a bigger purpose for your life. Period. And so everything I go through, it’s about my mindset and perspective and my attitude towards it. I know who’s in control, and that helps me a lot. I know God is in the driver’s seat. I know God has the steering wheel and I’m just a passenger along for the ride. But it took me a while to figure that out.
Many people view suffering as proof that God is cruel or evil. What enables you to look at your suffering and conclude that God is good?
You have to pay attention to God and when He’s at work in your life. You know, I faced a lot of adversity before this point. When I was younger, me and my family went through a lot—a lot of trial, a lot of opposition, a lot of adversity. I look at it today and I see what God has brought us from, and how God has used my situation and my circumstances to mold me into the man I am today.
When I think about me sleeping on the floor when I was a kid—those were some of the best times of my life, I kid you not. It was our perspective. First and foremost, someone always has it worse. We just always had a spirit of gratitude.
But I look back at the drive that it created because when I played sports I would be thinking, “Man, I gotta go to the NFL so my family can have a better way of life.” I would get up off that floor every morning and I would be in grind mode. I wasn’t bitter because of my circumstances, I was thankful, but it created a certain drive and a certain mindset that I have used to approach every aspect of my life.
What would your advice be to someone who is going through a trial and is tempted to doubt the goodness of God?
I’m a firm believer that God has never made a mistake. I’m also a firm believer that the things that happen to us are not designed to stop us but to reposition us so that we come into contact with what God really has for us.
But just being honest, I think people miss the boat on the whole concept of God being good. You know, most people consider God being good if He blesses them with a big house or new cars. It’s mostly based upon superficial, material things. Whereas me, I can wake up and say, “God is awesome. I woke up today.” You know, somebody didn’t wake up this morning. You don’t know what God has protected you from while you were sleeping—you and your family. And so if a person is up, if a person is alive and well, that’s enough right there.
I’ve been living 27 years. And so I get to this point when I’m 27 years old and I pray and I lead a godly life. And then I see something that I want. I feel I deserve it. I pray for it, I work for it. Then it doesn’t happen. I can take that circumstance and say, “Man, I’m mad at God. Why didn’t God give me this? I felt I deserved this. I worked for this. I’ve been patient. I stayed prayed up. I’ve helped some souls come to Christ. Why didn’t I get this?” And I can forget about the other 26 years of my life, when God has blessed me tremendously.
I can make a permanent decision over a temporary situation and consider myself to be mad at God. Why? God blesses us in so many ways every day that we don’t even pay attention to. And so it’s not as bad it may seem to an individual that may be going through something. Stay the course. Thank God every day, all day.
God says in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” When you hear something like that, take it for what it’s worth. It’s not a man talking, it’s not a lady talking. It’s God talking.
I would like to express my gratitude to Inky for graciously granting me time for this interview. He has nothing to gain from this other than encouraging the faith of those who read it—which, in Inky’s mind, means he has plenty to gain from it. (That’s just the kind of guy he is. It comes with being meek.) Thank you, Inky! – Cap Stewart