Friday, May 18, 2012
LIVING A GAMBLE
Of all the things that have been swimming around in my head lately, gambling is the last thing I might have thought to write about. But, suddenly, this morning I am thinking about it as I study James 5. Here James is getting down to it with the rich. He is pretty much blasting them for there arrogance in living richly off the backs of the poor, warning them that they will come to a miserable end for what they are doing.
One of the questions asked in the study is “What were they doing to the poor?” To that I answered that they were stealing from them and making their lives unbearable so that the rich could enjoy even more richness and merriment. Then my brain took off and ran me around a lot of possibly unrelated thoughts.
Facebook has gone public today, so that made me think about the stock market and the speculative investments that go on in oil and agriculture and other world wide product production. In that setting, people try frantically to make money off of forcing prices up and stripping the poor of any buying power they might otherwise have from their meager incomes. Each has his own agenda but together they work deliberately to raise money by trampling on others. And they gamble on the outcome.
Then I thought about the multitude of sports fans who gamble, in one way or another, on the outcome of sports events. And here I was remembering someone in whose house I visited at times and noticed that this person could not be attentive to his small children because he had placed bets on just about every football game out there and he had to pay attention to the progress of each one. He had two at a time on his television and several going on over the phone, sharing with others what was going on with the games they were watching.
And then there are poker players who play hour after hour, day after day, sure that their luck will change if they just keep playing. And they always have a lot at stake and a need to keep on keeping on to a better ending.
But as I thought about these things, a new picture began to form in my mind that I thought I would share with you. It is a picture of wanting to be God.
Why is it, after all, that a sports fan cannot bear to miss watching a game that has a hold on his heart or his money? Why is it that people who buy and sell stocks and futures have to be in the middle of everything and worried about every move that everyone in the world makes that might effect the outcome of their “wager?” Why is it that card players, horse players, and even causal slot players think they need to keep playing in order to, in effect, change their luck?
It was then that I began to wonder, “Does it have anything to do with wanting to be God?” Where in the world did that question come from? But think about it. Let’s use my favorite and most perplexing example: WHY do football fans think that watching the game (giving up other possibilities of how to spend the time) is somehow going to effect the outcome of the game? That somehow, their being there or watching it on TV will help their team win. Do they perhaps feel that they can actually help determine the outcome of the game just though watching? Do they have some need for that to be true?
Satan, the first to desire to be like and even be God, was at least up front about it. That power and presence is what he wanted and what he went for. And he has left that taint on all of us. We have a longing to control; to be in charge, to be an effect on something. And gambling, in one form or another, sets us up for just that. We can do it. We can effect the outcome of the game. We can make it work out in the end if we just persevere, if we just keep watching and “esp”ing the way to win. Even if we have no financial investment, our hearts can be just as heavily invested in the outcome. We want to win and we want of help it happen.
But back to the Futures investors: Now there is a group willing to have their way at all cost. And it does cost. But James and Jesus, Himself, admonish us to wait it out, being patient because the end of it all is coming and they will loose and we will win. In the meantime we need to keep our desire to control under control and not let it lead us into sinful behavior.
May we be alert to times when we just have to have an effect for something and we keep trying instead of relying on the power of God, and the very fact that He is God, to get the job done. May we seek to submit the outcome of all things to Him, through prayer and trusting. May we be willing to give up manipulations and rely on Him to achieve the outcome He desires.
By the way, I love my sports fan friends and dearly enjoy any opportunity to help them cheer their teams on. But maybe missing a game or two would not be the end of the world? Maybe they can win without you once in awhile? Just sayin’ :).