A pastor came to Union College a few years ago and said he tries to live by the "5 Second Rule". I don't remember the pastor's name or I'd give him the credit for this concept.
I was familiar with the 5 second rule (pertaining to how long food was good after dropping it on the floor) growing up, but I'd often stretch it to 10 or 15 seconds, depending on what food it was and how much I wanted to eat it. However, this was not the 5 second rule he was referring to.
He was referring to a rule that if you receive an impulsive thought, if you ignore it for 5 seconds without action it will go away or your brain will come up with reasons not to do it. He uses it when listening to the Holy Spirit's promptings. If he gets a thought like, Give that guy a hug, or Ask that man when his birthday is, and doesn't act on it within 5 seconds, he won't do it. So he goes for it within the first 5 seconds.
This evening as I was driving back from a movie (I saw Blade Runner and it was alright...), I looked next to me at a red light and saw an interesting young woman. She looked like there was no way she was older than me, although it was hard to tell because it was dark out and she had a hood on cinched pretty tight around her face. Her old Oldsmobile was rattling pretty loud and I'm guessing the air conditioning wasn't working quite right because she had her windows cracked open in the rain with fog forming inside. In the backseat she had 2 car seats that looked like they were for an infant and a toddler.
For some reason, I felt the impulse to ask her if she needs help with anything. Her window was open so she would be able to hear me just fine if I rolled mine down and said something.:
But I let 5 seconds pass.
By then I came up with at least a few good excuses: 1) She would think I was weird, 2) She'd be offended as if she is some charity case and her pride would be wounded or 3) The light could turn green any second.
Maybe I missed an opportunity to do good for someone else, maybe not. I know that by not asking out on my gut feeling, I left room for only one of those outcomes. So as I drove away I made a decision to act more impulsively when it comes to helping people. Feel free to join me!