Luck Has Nothing to Do with It
“But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is.” (John 15:7-8, MSG)
Have you ever read something in the Bible a hundred times and disregarded it as an insignificant detail? I can guarantee you have at some point or another and not even noticed you were doing it. Recently, I realized I was glossing over a Biblical detail that I thought was just an antiquated practice. You know what I mean; one of those “Bible things” that we just don’t do anymore because we have more sophisticated technology or cultures have changed and that little detail isn’t applicable anymore.
I only realized it because it came up twice in one week in two wildly different books of the Bible I was in for my reading: once in Jonah and another time in Acts. This tiny, seemingly insignificant and unimportant detail was the practice of casting lots. If you’re anything like me, you recognize the term but have no idea what it is or why anyone did it. Needless to say, once it came to my attention, I felt compelled to do a little digging.
Casting lots was something people used to do when they were faced with a choice or a situation that they didn’t have an answer for. When it became clear that there was not enough sound counsel or scripture reference to make a decision, the dilemma was left for God to determine. Lots were basically sticks or stones with markings and symbols that were cast into a small, designated area and depending on how they landed, God’s will was determined and thus, a decision was made.
Casting lots are found a number of times throughout the Bible. In Joshua, they were cast to determine how the promised land would be divided up. In Jonah, they were cast on the ship Jonah stowed away on to determine who was responsible for the violent storm God sent across their path. In the gospels, we know that the soldiers crucifying Christ cast lots to determine who would take home Jesus’ robes and clothing. The last time the Bible speaks about casting lots is found in Acts 1 when the disciples realize they have to replace Judas among the twelve. They whittle their choices down to two men, Joseph and Matthias. The lot fell to Matthias, and so he filled the void role in Jesus’ disciples just before Pentecost.
And so maybe that’s why I glossed over the term up until this point: because it truly is an antiquated act, and we can determine this due to the exact moment where the last lot was cast in the Bible: the one that made Matthias part of the twelve. Like I said before, people only cast lots to determine what God’s will was. They did it because they didn’t have the ability to discern or confer with God as to what course of action would glorify Him. But in the beginning of Acts 2, a very important player is introduced to the field: the Holy Spirit.
You see, there’s more than just a few reasons Jesus calls the Holy Spirit the helper in the gospel of John. The Holy Spirit teaches us, He reminds us of the promises Jesus made, and He makes it so that we have access to the very counsel of God to make decisions on which actions glorify Him. Does this mean we no longer make the wrong decisions? Absolutely not. Christianity is a constant battle between righteousness and our own flesh, and that’s a whole ‘nother devo for another day. What it does mean is that we don’t have to rely on relics or chance anymore to make our big choices. We only have to rely on the helper that God has given us— going to Him in prayer and by making his word a home within our hearts.
I admit, when I read up on what casting lots was, I thought it was a little silly. How could sticks and stones determine the will of God? It kind of sounds like they were considering a roll of the dice to be the sovereign move of the Father.
But then I thought of all the silly things we do today in the name of desire. We break wishbones. We wish on stars and 11:11. We blow out candles, dandelions, and eyelashes. We throw pennies into fountains and wells. We make up these silly rituals all in the name of making our wishes come true. How foolish of us to put our hope into these meaningless things when we have a heavenly Father that wants to hear the desires of our heart.
Our God doesn’t sit on high and watch us struggle from afar. In fact, God designed an elaborate plan involving the death of His son and the outpouring of His spirit so that we could live life right at His side. He is a God that wants to dream with us and hear what we have to say. So why not steal away with Him and let the gracious and helpful Holy Spirit guide us and show us how our hopes and dreams can glorify Him. We don’t need sticks or stones or magic wands. He eagerly gave us all the tools we needed centuries ago so we wouldn’t have to live by wistfulness, but in the confidence and provision of the Lord. You see, when we live according to His will, luck has nothing to do with it.
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