I came across this cartoon that I think its main message was pointed at public education. At first, I chuckled at the absurdity of what was being asked by the man behind the desk. Yet, as I continued to study the picture, I realized only one out of seven creatures would be able to “climb” the tree, but all could do something with the tree. The blackbird could fly up in the tree, the penguin could walk up to the tree, the elephant could shake the tree with its trunk, the fish, well it could look at the tree, the seal along with the dog could bark at the tree. I know I am stretching my analytical skill a bit, but as you look at this picture you realize that the simple truth is, the exam is not fair to all its participants.
I know that most of us, if not all, understand life is not fair. Life doesn’t always work out the way we intended. Yet, I have always maintained that, if we work hard, work until exhaustion sets in, “gut it out” so to speak, then hard work will pay off and success will be ours.
But in light of Ecclesiastes 9:11 is my thinking correct? If I work at being swift, strong, wise in my understanding, skilled in my professional endeavors will God shine on me like the bright morning sun and be fair to me? Will God treat me with equity, with divine fairness? Or am I just left with a big bowl of divine chance, dished out by the Creator sitting behind the desk?
First, we need to understand what the Preacher means by the phrase, “But time and chance happen to them all.” The word “chance” within this passage doesn’t speak of the occurrence and development of events in the absence of any obvious design, but rather an “incident,” such as a calamity, disappointment, unforeseen occurrence. Thinking in limited, finite terms, mankind is answerable to changes that are beyond their control. A Hand higher than man’s ability determines events, which will always include success, failure, limits, and boundaries, seen and unforeseen occurrences. But man cannot see into the future, we cannot see what may happen to us in 2021, we are just too finite, too limited. And on top of all this we all don’t have the same amount of swiftness, strength, wisdom, riches, understanding, and skill set.
So, is that fair? The short answer is YEP! Even with godly wisdom working on our behalf as believers in Christ, it cannot guarantee us the best outcome of life’s experiences, because at best, life from our view in unpredictable. And as we head into 2021, we need to understand more than ever that, fairness is not a fringe benefit of being a Christian. We can have all the mental talents that go along with being bright and astute, we can have the physical coordination that belongs to the greatest warrior and athlete, yet through an unforeseen occurrence all of life can be altered in a blink of an eye.
So, if fairness is not a fringe benefit of being a Christian and the race is not to the swift, battle to the strong, bread to the wise, riches to men with understanding, favor to men of skill, what can we do? Let me suggest to you, placing some arrows in your quiver.
ONE, PLACE THE ARROW OF CONTROL IN YOUR QUIVER
Accept the fact that there are things we cannot control and yet there are things we can. We do have control of our life, limited as it may seem. I can choose to be a hardworking student, factory worker, soldier, farmer, teacher… or just plain lazy. We all have choices to be responsible or irresponsible for our behavior. We may not have control over the experience, but we do have control of how I will respond to my experience.
EXAMPLE: On my best day of being a runner I have never won a race. I never came in last, but make no mistake I never came in first either. Is this fair? Why didn’t God bless me with the speed of Jesse Owens? He was a four-time gold medalist at the 1936 Olympic Games. Yet, I can control whether I get off the couch and get some needed exercise. I do not run well these days but it doesn’t stop me from using what I have. I have two legs that can still walk, so I walk. A slow walk for a few miles beats the couch every time. This example applies to all of life. I am responsible for what I know I can do, not for what I cannot do. Place the arrow of “control” in our quiver.
TWO, PLACE THE ARROW OF DIVINE PLAN IN YOUR QUIVER
I am left with just two choices (that I am aware of); I can believe that everything is left up to human chance or to a loving sovereign God who only wants good to come to my life. God told His people Israel, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) It is not God’s objective to hurt you or me. He is not the destroyer, the thief of life. In John 10:10, Jesus says, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” If God is our Divine Planner and He only wants what is best for our life, and that He is a giver of all good things, then we need to look at what is happening to us through His divine plan. God is in the details of our life. He is no divine watchmaker, winding up life, then backing off and allowing the watch to run on its own. Place the arrow of “divine plan” in your quiver.
I am reminded of a lady who, when viewed through my limited understanding of life, was dealt a bad hand. Her name is Frances Jane van Alstyne, or more commonly known as Fanny Crosby. She was an American mission worker. We know her best for her hymns, writing more than 8,000 of them along with other gospel songs. According to one website, her music has been reprinted a 100 million times. I think we can all agree that she was extremely talented and gifted by God. But life from purely a human perspective, was not fair to her. She had lost her eyesight through an eye infection and medical ignorance at the ripe old age of six weeks. On top of all that she was married in 1858 at the age of 38 and in 1859 she gave birth to a baby but the child died shortly after birth. Was life fair to Fanny Crosby? No, not from a human perspective but from God’s perspective and Fanny’s it was more than fair—It was just right! Think on her words concerning the life she was given, no fault of her own. “If I had a choice, I would still choose to remain blind…for when I die, the first face I will ever see will be the face of my blessed Savior.” I believe Fanny’s quiver was full. She knew exactly what the arrow of personal control was all about—her responsibility, balanced with the awareness of the arrow of divine plan—Fanny’s life was not just good, it was just right—I would call it fair.
What about your life? What is in your quiver?
This is Pastor Pat FROM BEHIND THE PEN—wishing you Joy in Jesus!