An Italian friend of mine was a citizen of Italy when his home was confiscated by the Nazis and his parent killed. “Pete” has passed now, but he had scrambled into the woods and escaped Italy finally ending up in Chicago. There, he worked as a laborer, began doing side work on his own, and ended up having millions in his estate. Chance in many ways made him. He did not whine about the difficulties he faced in America partly because he knew of much greater difficulties. Chance did not ruin him, but his time did run out.
All of us can learn from Pete’s life-experience. We have an allotted time during which many opportunities – both good and bad – will chance our way.
We all have a period of time, of opportunity that is, and every choice we make can be seen as a risk – or was it an opportunity?
We were raised in a land of opportunity. Some of us ended up with careers; but many of us found comfort in working in factories where good wages were paid and late-life benefits were offered. Only a generation before the Lynden Johnson’s idea of a
”great society” offered Americans the so-called “social security,” either citizens helped the poor or the poor faired – – – poorly.
Just a generation before Lyndon Johnson was president a great many American children were orphans, we had orphanages; old folk’s homes: job security in factories was greatly desired: university education was not common among us. Time and chance were issues quite meaningful and opportunity was seized – thankfully seized. When the word got out that John Deere was hiring, for instance, hundreds of us would gather every day and hope that our name was called.
John Deere had joined the United Auto Workers union whose contracts with Deere & Company brought astounding increase in wages, benefits, and worker protection. Laborers at John Deere, simply according to chance and opportunity, once hired could live at a scale of luxury in comparison to less fortunate citizens. An argument against leaving one factory job and going to work at Deere when they were hiring focused on job stability and layoffs. It was a risk-choice in the minds of many, to choose being a laborer at Deere & Company.
That opportunity has passed: the times are different. Times have always been different in different places. So it is that time and chance does happen to us all. Life circumstances will change; and even if we have prepared for certain employment potential, it could be that the job will not be there when we get there. Planning does not guarantee success, but a person who takes the risk – the opportunity to prepare himself; qualify himself – will more likely take more risk at opportunities and find ways to be self-supportive. It’s who he is, who he has become: we try, we make decisions based on the available information; the available opportunities; and we become problem solving people.
We are being taught that time is endless even though that is meaningless, actually irrelevant because it is not visibly endless to us. We are not being taught to heed the fact that our individual lives are short on earth. We are being taught that life is a journey and that on that journey it is the government’s job to assure us equal opportunities in life. But, we are not being taught about equal effort on the part of individuals. We are not being shown any equality concerning a right to be born. We are being taught of a right to die when we choose to die.
But who has for us a correct law book? Who correctly defines for us what behavior is right and what is wrong? As we ponder and debate, the clock is ticking; and our choices are impacting our world – and other’s worlds.
All of us know that we exist: we think and plan and this we know is life. But our presence is unexplained by the processes we see. “Things that are were not made by things that appear,” and no scientist can without speculation challenge that truth. The Bible explains that time exists for us between beginnings and endings, that eternity past and eternity future do not know death; that choice must be honestly made and with it confession – we have all sinned.
The Bible teaches us what we know in part concerning good and evil. Almost everyone believes some form of the saying, “What goes around, comes around.” India’s historic idea on this is called the laws of moral duty – dharma; and of consequence – karma. The Bible states “God is not mocked, that which a man sows, he shall also reap.”
But something most wonderful, the Bible also teaches: and that is divine mercy and divine forgiveness. Who raise a family with kindness will innately know the value and treasure of mercy and forgiveness – and the need for one coming clean so that forgiveness is transactional: it works wonders.
We have the opportunity in life of making right choices, of turning from the way of wrong ones, of studying God’s word before we allow ourselves to be convinced that it is not His word, of hearing and heeding in our hearts – the same place that love sprouts – the urgings of the Holy Spirit. We have the opportunity to risk and live by our own urges – usually thinking we can escape the consequences – common sense and the Holy Spirit ignored.
Time and chance happen to us all. We can’t avoid that; but we can all seek excellence. We can all be thankful for the help that comes our way. We can admit that we are not entitled – as though we are a special class either incapable; but at least in part lazy or ungrateful. Help is everywhere.
Although time and chance may present difficulties to us; even though we are unsure over opportunities, even when we struggle fully knowing right or wrong, we can know from life-stories that God can give us courage and encouragement, that He will wipe away our stifling guilt and shame – bringing us new hope – being for us the Fountain of new beginnings, that “He is for us” and He is over our lives – there for our faith in Him – directing us through His word.
Although time and chance played their roles, God guided us through them to Him. In a way, they made us what we are; but in a more realistic way, He made us what we will be forever.
Our difficulties turned us to the only sure answer in life and no religion thought of it: it is revealed to us from His word. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him shall not perish, but hath everlasting life.”
Time and chance were useful elements as we lived, out of which only one answer was sure: Yes, Jesus loves me – the Bible tells me so.