Chances

I’ve never been struck by lightening but I have come close enough on two occasions that it scared the what-not out of me.  Close enough to feel the warmth of the lightening blade and have all the hair on my arms and head stand on end. When it storms Renata goes to the window and cheers; I find my way to the middle of the house and try to ignore what’s going on.  Unfortunately, denial is not the first rule of safety.

They say the odds of winning a jackpot lottery are about the same as those of being struck by lightening.  But then, I don’t think all of us share the same odds when it comes to lightening.  I visit a lot of home-bound elderly and I don’t think they have very high odds where lightening is concerned.  At least, none of them has ever shared this worry with me as a prayer point.  On the other hand, I saw a TV program once about a forest ranger, somewhere in the Smokey Mountains in the USA, who has been struck by lightening seven times in the course of his duties.  I couldn’t figure out if I should think him lucky, or not.

I’ve mostly stayed clear of lottery tickets.  My mother told me gambling was of the devil and it was generally accepted that lottery tickets qualified.  In reality I think the problem was the money involved – if it was a free lottery, raffle, or sweepstakes then we seemed to be fine taking our chances.  However, a “free” lottery where you had to use a postage stamp to send off the entry form was always a bit dicey….

I confess my sins: I have bought the occasional ticket, mostly when it was in connection with a fund raising event for one charity or another.  I can remember the Concertgebouw had something like that some twenty years ago, and the boys in my neighborhood come by annually to sell tickets whose proceeds go toward their football club.  But let’s face it, I didn’t care much about the new wing of the Concertgebouw; I was interested in the jackpot prize.  (Though now that the new wing is there, it IS a handy place to use the restroom when I’m in that part of town, and I feel comfortably entitled to this privilege, knowing I contributed.)  And I don’t give a hoot whether or not those boys have to wear last year’s uniforms; winning the new car or the vacation in Greece is my goal.

I’ve discovered that when I’ve got a lottery ticket in hand, life changes ever so slightly.  I can understand why they sell as well as they do.  Suddenly, people like me, with no possibility of ever having 100,000 euros to spend however they wish, or no chance of ever getting a new car, are – at least in theory – in with a real chance.  A few weeks ago Eva and I found a lottery ticket blowing along the sidewalk.  A jackpot of 25 million!  What a fun few hours we had!  All the things we could get, all the people we could share with!  The bills we could pay!  The good we could do!  Then we checked online to find we hadn’t won anything at all. No lightening strike; not even a static shock from the doorknob.  But the fantasy life was fun while it lasted and I suppose a bit of fantasy never hurt anyone, as long as the lengths to which one goes to engage it are within reason.  Sadly there are many people who are enslaved to their lack of moderation.

Proverbs 16:33  says, “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.”  Which makes me wonder why God might think I need to win a discount voucher for the movies rather than 100,000 euros.  And does He really have the time to spare to apportion the millions of bets going on at any one time?  Or is this just the Old Testament’s way of saying that, no matter how bad we want it or whatever superstitions we employ trying to influence it (“cast into the lap” = appeals to the influence of male mojo),  our odds are determined by the fundamental rules by which God ordered the cosmos.

Which for me is a good reminder that there is a better way.  Rather than putting my hopes of “blessing” in unbending and insensitive natural laws, why buy the ticket at all?  Wouldn’t I do much better trusting in Someone who says he loves me and offers to care for my every need?

Relationship wins over Rules every time.

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