I’d been watching this quirky batter at the plate for some time… all of us waiting patiently, the pitcher included, as he went through a series of gestures, tugs at his uniform, swings of his bat, digging his foot into the dirt, hand to his hat in various places, now crouching, then standing up… over and over.
“Oh, he’s just going through his good luck routine before the pitch,” my husband informed me. “Baseball players are the most superstitious people I’ve ever seen.”
Well this ballplayer certainly added to my entertainment. And looking around at fans with their hats turned inside out, fingers crossed, and eyes closed, it was obvious it wasn’t just the player who was trying to influence the outcome.
How many of us have routines we sometimes follow or objects we carry to “help along” the fruits of our actions? Maybe it’s a lucky number we always choose. Perhaps it’s a coin or a souvenir from an especially wonderful trip. Sometimes we avoid saying things or else repeat a word over and over in hopes of good fortune.
Las Vegas is the capital of luck and chance. One casino used to bear the name “Lady Luck” in hopes gamblers would choose its games over the others. Although the activities are called “games of chance,” most players assume they can somehow control their future.
But you don’t have to be a gambler to follow this view of life. In the middle ages, the Wheel of Fortune was an actual wheel supposedly turned by the goddess Fortuna. She would give it a random spin anytime she chose, and everyone could suddenly see his or her luck change. Don’t get too comfortable in your success for it’s bound to “turn” with the wheel! She didn’t really care about anyone or anything. Yet there were those who tried to appease her and influence the wheel’s spin.
The key to this is the belief that life is unpredictable. That’s what fate is all about. You can’t trust it. You can try to manipulate it, but good luck with that! That doesn’t seem to keep people from trying though. Some get so obsessed with their superstitious routines and amulets that those very things become the object of devotion and trust. Some people will do anything to ensure good luck and ward off bad events.
It’s really about fear, though. Fear things won’t go our way. Fear that the good things that are happening will suddenly turn sour. Fear for the future, ours and that of our loved ones.
“Luck” is not mentioned in the Bible at all. Fortune is found, however, in Isaiah 65:11 as something people try to appease, as they “spread a table for Fortune.” This is the obsession to guard against. The misplaced trust in whatever attempts to sway the future we look to.
The Lord God is firm in His insistence that we should trust in Him alone. When I think of those who wear themselves out playing games with their future and their fortunes, my heart groans with sadness.
And then there are those who gamble with their relationship with their Savior, taking a chance everything will work out. But He’s not just another good luck charm to pick up whenever we feel the need for something to go our way.
Yet I too find myself misplacing my trust at times, whether it be a trust in someone else or my own strengths. Like that old image of the changing wheel, I know I can be heading on the downward turn at any time when I look to my own understanding and the wisdom of this world.
I need to daily reconnect to the source of life, not of luck. Reminding myself that my Lord only wants to prosper me and give me hope (Jer. 29:11). He is the one who holds the future, whether it is one minute away or years down the road.
Sure games and good luck rituals are fun. I still will close my eyes before my favorite team kicks a field goal. I still will rub the noses of statues for good luck.
But that’s not where I put my trust. I know that neither the present nor the future nor any powers will ever separate me from God’s love in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:38-39). That includes Fate, Fortune, Luck, or whatever else I call it.
And when I rest in that assurance, abide in His unfailing love, I have no more fears. I truly can flourish.
And my future is secure in the grace of His forgiving arms.