Dr. John E. Johnson

Dr. John E. Johnson
Blog, Wisdom

Monday Morning Proverb

“The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord” Proverbs 16:33

It’s characteristic of one of my tennis foes, after he has made a brilliant hit, to respond with “Lucky shot.” But was it? What role does luck or chance have to do with anything? Was it really an unfortunate choice of words? Was it fate that we met on a court? Are some players more fortunate than others?

This weekend Heather and I visited friends who live near Las Vegas. When it comes to luck, you could say Vegas is ground zero. Here is where chance has its most intense activity. Coming back to this world of glamor and glitz, it’s a much different world than the one I visited in the 60’s. My uncle was an avid tennis player, and he would occasionally fly me over from San Diego for a weekend of competition. He was a pit boss at the Frontier Club, way before there was The Bellagio and its fountains and The Venetian and its fake canals. We would hit the courts in the afternoon, and he would eventually leave for an evening of watching dealers deal and gamblers gamble. He lived in a world surrounded by money.

If there is a god of mammon, and I believe there is, Las Vegas has to be one of the most revered  temples of worship. Money had my uncle firmly in its grasp for nearly his whole life. Sadly, in his final years of retirement, he spent almost every moment watching CNBC. Stocks became his new gaming table, and like the gamblers he once watched, he too lived in hopes that Lady Luck would smile on him.  

But the words of this proverb would indicate that we live in a world where God is sovereign, and where there is no such thing as chance. As one put it, “Luck is the residue of design.” Or as Solomon put it, what appears to be random is ultimately a decision made in eternity past. But I am guessing most every gambler’s world view assumes that nothing more than luck of the draw, turn of the dice, or spin of the wheel is in play. Can one really see the hand of God in a casino?

The sage would contend that God’s hand is in everything. If it is not, then someone or something else (the law of physics, the flick of a wrist) is sovereign. The truth is, only God is supreme. What appears to be random has all of the authority of intentional, divine decision. Other passages in Scripture underscore this. Even when pagan sailors cast their lots, an all knowing and all powerful God ruled through it (Jonah 1:7).

Sitting on the return flight, it is a safe bet that most of these travelers have returned with less in their wallets. It’s much quieter than the raucous ride down. In the end, the house usually wins. And behind it all, the sage is telling us it is all foreordained. What happens in Vegas comes home.

Good luck on your coming week!



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