Monday, November 9, 2009

“Do you feel lucky? Well, do ya - punk?” ('Dirty' Harry Callahan)

Having missed the Sunday morning worship service due to a previous commitment to the ‘Whitetail Mission Field’, I was driving to the evening church service last Sunday with my wife - with the car radio tuned to the Christian music station we normally enjoy. We were having a discussion about whether or not our phone plan allowed us to attach pictures to a text message and she picked up her phone and started punching keys (I assumed she was checking out something about our discussion.) But then she held the phone to her ear, obviously making a call. (I was unaware she had been multi-tasking – defined (by me) as doing several different things not very well as the same time.)
She turned toward me and said, “I’m going to win that prize.”
While I had been waxing eloquently about all the things I don’t understand about ‘texting,’ she heard the radio personality promise 4 tickets to the ICE! exhibit at the Gaylord Texan to ‘caller number something or other’. The next thing I knew, she was giving out her name, address, etc. so she could claim her prize at the radio station.
Afterward, she said, “Do you realize how many times I have won their call-in prizes?”
[Well, she won tickets to Six Flags with accompanying tickets to see Chris Tomlin’s concert; she won $1,000 cash on the barrelhead; and then there were tickets to a Harlem Globetrotters’ game.] So, with a ripe, theological sarcasm, I responded, “You sure are ‘lucky,’ aren’t you?”
Her eye-rolling response was, “Yeah, right.”

For years, we have tried to avoid the use of the word ‘luck’ or ‘lucky’ in our house. Believing that God is in absolute, total control of every single thing that happens (either through His orchestration of it or His allowing it), it just seems ludicrous to believe that a person could possess some type of attribute that causes the ‘fickle finger of fate’ to point more favorably at him or her than at others. Or that certain things happen to us simply because the stars are all aligned in our favor at a particular time.
‘Luck’ doesn’t shine on us, God happens. He blesses. He loves.
Sure, lots of people will say that God doesn’t get involved with finding you a parking spot, helping you find the DVD to rent, or keeping the bird droppings off your clean car. But, the Bible says: Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. (Matthew 10:29-30) Even though those numbers don’t go as high as they used to, God cares. He knows. He is in control.
Since God is in complete control, nothing happens He didn’t [at the very least] permit to happen.
Unfortunately, we often let our fallen perspective dictate whether or not we think we are being blessed by God. Like Job’s friends argued, we often think that ‘good things’ happening to us indicate God is happy with us and when ‘bad things’ happen, well . . .
But I think the truth is that we are being blessed all of the time by God. Some things we recognize as His blessings, others may take time, others we may never understand. But since He is in absolute control, and since He loves us infinitely, we can trust that He is blessing us.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us in the heavenly realms
with every spiritual blessing in Christ
Ephesians 1:3, emphasis added
Regardless of our circumstances, regardless of anything going on in our world, from the throne of God in heaven (the heavenly realms) – God has blessed us. Ephesians 1 goes on to mention some of the awesome ways He has blessed and is blessing us: He predestined us to be adopted as his sons; He has freely given us His glorious grace; we have redemption through his blood; we have the forgiveness of sins; He lavished wisdom and understanding on us; He made known to us the mystery of his will, which he purposed in Christ; we were chosen; we have been predestined; we were included in Christ; we were marked in Him with the Holy Spirit; we are His possession (verses 4-14).
Whoa. Does that sound like something as happenstance as ‘luck’? Not hardly.
What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? . . .
Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow - not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below - indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord
. (Romans 8:31-39, NLT)

So, I guess if I were looking down the barrel of Dirty Harry’s .44 Magnum - the most powerful handgun in the world - I’d have to respond, “No, I don’t feel lucky. I’m blessed.”

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