Is it luck?
People tell me I’m lucky. I hear it regularly.
I’m lucky to be here, lucky to be alive, lucky to be walking.
And it sort of makes me chuckle, because they never say I’m lucky to have my insides squashed and rearranged, or that I’m lucky to have had a titanium rod drilled through my leg bone, removed and another, bigger rod rammed through the same place. They never tell me that I’m lucky to have lost four days of my life while my family wondered and prayed and hoped for my survival. They never tell me that I’m lucky my kids faced the real possibility of losing their mom. They never tell me I’m lucky I was in desperate pain for months and unable to perform any normal tasks in my role as mom and wife.
But yeah, I get all the lucky breaks.
Others may see the results, me walking and living and enjoying life, and praise the unseen good-luck fairy.
I know the process of my pain, and therefore praise God. Tweet this!
Sometimes people don’t want to credit God for a dramatic rescue. They say things like, “It wasn’t God who stopped on the highway and saved you – it was men and women – people. If it weren’t for those people—”
Others can’t finish the sentence. But I can: If it weren’t for those people, I’d be dead.
And if it weren’t for another person (who happened to get behind the wheel of a vehicle while inebriated) we wouldn’t be having this conversation at all.
And if it weren’t for this decision or that bit of timing or … where do we end?
The truth is, I believed in a sovereign God before we were struck down on Highway 395.
Am I lucky because I believe in a God who answers prayer?
Am I lucky that I believed in him before the crisis? Or, crazy, perhaps? Only crazy people believe in an unseen force that creates and controls the universe, right? Better be sane and chalk it up as luck.
Men and women did save me – dozens of them. From the first responders to the helicopter rescue team to the surgeon who quickly and efficiently fixed my organs, to the team of nurses who served me, to the inventors of all the medical gadgets and those who invented surgical processes. Not a day goes by that I don’t feel gratitude for the people who rescued me and cared for my family.
Their presence in my life, the fact that their lives and mine intersected in the dramatic fashion that it did, only reinforces my faith in an all-powerful, all-knowing God.
It also opened my eyes to an aspect of God’s personality that I hadn’t seen before: he’s an all-people God, too.
I caught a glimpse of God’s, all-peopleness when I visited Ethiopia in 2009.
You see, my experience in life had been defined only by what I knew, and I knew little outside of the USA. When I went to Africa, I did it with my eyes open. I didn’t want to miss a thing. I wanted to see God at work there. I didn’t know what I was looking for, but I’d hoped to recognize it.
What I saw were people. Faces and faces of various shades of brown to inky black. I saw smiles and songs and grief and hunger and weariness and joy and love and pain and hope in the faces and on the skin of Ethiopia.
I saw our commonness. And I recognized myself as I looked at them. I heard my own songs when I heard them sing. And I cried in a coffee processing plant under the gaze of the sun because of it.
I could not live in Ethiopia, but I could love Ethiopia. I could not fix Ethiopia, but I could hold hands with her people. I found God in the people of Ethiopia as they loved and hoped and walked to work and roasted coffee and slung their babies or racks of firewood upon their backs. I caught a glimpse of the all-peopleness of God in Africa.
Because no one with half a heart would call a rural Ethiopian who lives in a stick and mud hut with dirt floors and only owns the dirty clothes on her back lucky.
But we can call her saved, graced, valuable, important, vital. And her hands might very well be the life-saving, life-giving hands that a neighbor might need; her words might be the soothing hope, the sustaining truth, the bit of courage that another hut-dweller may need to wake to the next day and face it standing up tall.
And I know that as I pray for Ethiopia, so does she. And so does nurse Sophie who has given her life to meeting the physical needs of the neediest in that land, the poor rural-dwelling pregnant mommies and their fragile newborn babies. And so do the doctors who gave up lucrative careers here in the west in order to teach Africans medicine. We are connected in our humanity and in our faith in a God who sees, and cares, and hears our prayers.
Our family prayed on a sweet August night a single word: help. Help came. Help came in the flesh and in the spirit. Medically trained people and everyday people stopped and physically met us in the depth of our need.
God of Ethiopia and God of Alyssa Santos are one-in-the-same. And this makes luck look even dumber.
Here is my take on the sovereignty of God, his all-knowing, all-powerful nature:
God is sovereign over all statistical improbabilities. He works his divine grace into all possible situations as he moves his creation toward that perfect, ordained moment when redemption will rush full and complete.
We could debate and you might protest. But the truth is, if I cannot say that statement—and mean it—then why worship God at all? Why not call it luck and just move on?
Luck keeps us looking down, for the four-leaf clover or the random penny; luck keeps us looking back as we try to make sense of situations.
Praising God? Well, that keeps us facing the future with a song in our souls and endless possibilities before us.
Praising a sovereign God keeps us full even as we pass out hope to others, serving up our stories like a love-feast.
Praising God makes us rich, even as we give away forgiveness, grace, money, joy.
Praising God keeps our vision clear so that we can see the incarnate love of God not just in the person of Jesus, but in the people of Jesus! Tweet this!
Luck is chance and dice and the shuffle of cards.
Luck did not save me, never has, never will.
God, the One who knows every possible eventuality and who is powerful enough to work through all possible futures, saved me through Jesus Christ. His power was punctuated in the presence of the life-savers who came to our crash site. This love was manifested in the helping hands of the many who brought me back to health.
This was a visitation of the incarnation. Proof positive that luck is dumb and God is sovereign.
So friend, don’t discount the number of breaths you have today, or the left-turns or the standing in line at the grocery store or the words that you get to speak. God works through the minutiae of our moments and seeks opportunities to incarnate his love and his salvation through our lives. God is an all-people God: big people, little people, educated people, African people, doctors and mothers and strangers.
Look at their faces and you will see not lucky ones but a million reasons to love.
1 Peter 1:3 -9
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.
This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.