Friday, November 11, 2011

The Gospel of Self-Determination

Just as bitterness can flow from unforgiveness it can also flow from a sense of shattered plans and disappointment. The world says that you can do anything that you want if you just believe in yourself, work hard and don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do it.  There is a lie in all this.  In the book of Acts, Saul was dragging Christians off to jail; he was a man to be feared.  On the way to Damascus he was converted by the presence of Jesus.  He was led, blind into the city and awaited a brave Christian to pray over him. Ananias was the man that God chose, but he was scared (Acts 9:13-16). That last phrase blows me away, “I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”  God wants us to lay our lives at His feet; we don’t get to call the shots.
When I think about the gospel of self-determination “you can do anything you want to do, just believe in yourself” I’m envisioning some star baseball player saying how slow and small he was when he was a kid.  He will say he didn’t listen to the “haters and discouragers,” worked hard, never gave up, and got what he wanted.  This is true, but only for him and a select few, but not for the tens of thousands of other football players whose dreams perished along the path to glory.  The baseball star fails to mention is that he was extremely fortunate to have many things fall into place.  John Holway, in his book The Baseball Astrologer and other Weird Tales analyzed pro baseball players birthdays and found that that ball players have a 50-60% better chance of making it to the big leagues if they were born in August.  This would make a ball player the oldest player on a team when they all start playing t-ball and naturally have a physiological head start.  This player would usually play more, ride the bench less, and be more likely to play all-stars, thereby extending playing time.  This and many other silent advantages built talent and encourage even more practice.  All pro players have worked really hard, but they have also benefitted from many unseen factors that they do not understand. 
The lottery is for fools, because the probability of winning is extremely low.  It would be foolish to neglect a career to play the lottery every day.  Just as it is foolish to put your hopes on the lottery, it is also foolish to put your hopes on anything resembling a lottery in the way that it works (Proverbs 28:19).  Some careers are essentially a lottery, whereby only a few make it past the many filtration barriers. Wouldn’t it stink to be one of the few athletes who made it only to have some freak injury sideline you?  This happens every Sunday.