A Look Past Luck
“I’d love a lucky rabbit’s foot too!” I would think as yet again Gladstone Gander came out on top. His comic stories usually closed with Donald Duck shuffling grim-faced out of the cartoon frame, seething in frustration.
Maybe I was an impressionable kid (suffering from “Disney” spells?) but good luck seemed like a great idea. Gladstone Gander’s lucky rabbit’s foot never let him down, but my kid-sized perspective never enabled me to consider how unlucky the original owner of the foot must have been!
Nowadays the power people are so organised that no bad luck would dare try upsetting their schedules. Cushioned with massive incomes, with aides at their disposal, their power to make waves is obvious. Obvious, but not always admired – especially by those who enjoy knocking down tall poppies, or who love to see them fall all by themselves.
Britain’s war-time Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s wit was as merciless as it was memorable. When he received an invitation to the lavish opening night of a new Noel Coward play in London’s West End, he saw that Coward had enclosed an extra ticket with the PS: “Bring a friend; if you have one!”
Churchill wrote back: “I’m so sorry that I’m already engaged that evening, but I’m free to come to your second night – if you have one!”
The rest of us plain-vanilla people can’t readily deliver such quick barbs as we try to see what’s ahead; how quickly or strongly it’s coming; or how long it will last. Yet how we respond to it will shape whether it is good or bad. Much more than external, unpredictable elements like luck, which offer us no inner resources to deal with our frustration or our anxiety.
Throughout motoring’s earliest years, drivers had to use crank-handles to get their cars started. Great for upper body strength, but also risking upper body damage…
Because these handles cranked up its internal compression, an engine would often fire backwards as it burst into life. Without warning, but with serious consequences for the arm or shoulder of anyone still holding the handle!
In 1915 this frustrating scenario collapsed against two breakthroughs …
The first arrived without warning; as Charles Kettering’s engine suddenly backfired and broke his arm.
The second arose more gradually for; instead of bemoaning bad luck; Kettering applied his mechanical insights to his frustration. The result: an electric starter motor!
Problem solved – world-wide - by this straight-talking engineer who lived out the quotes he was famous for; like “keep going; you’ll never stumble across anything while you’re sitting down!”
Frustrations impose themselves on us from the outside, but anxieties seek to stifle us from within. Jesus defuses this anxiety by comparing us with creatures from way further down the food chain than we are: “The lilies’ beauty doesn’t come from having to work eight days a week! … Not even sparrows – a dime a dozen – can die without your heavenly Father noticing. So why be anxious?”
The bible reminds us that if God seems to be hiding, it’s because he’s already inside our deepest challenges – right where we may not wish to look - waiting to release his grace!
It may feel easier to blame our mess on everyone else or on bad luck, but from the moment we let him be Lord of who we are and where we are, we start to find his answers blending his intimate care with his infinite resources.
God enjoys turning evil on its head, while simultaneously offering forgiveness to its culprits; and our wrapping our hearts around his grace will open our eyes, so our mess becomes a doorway into a clearer relationship with him. And the same door can become a means for us to release his creativity, clarity and patience into our connections with others, so we may start moving toward levels of effectiveness that will leave our previous frustrations gasping for oxygen.
The Apostle Paul echoed this theme when he wrote a letter to encourage his friends in Rome: “Don’t be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Rom 12:21)
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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