Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A String of "Bad Luck"


A few weeks ago I wrote about the subtle changes that are occurring in my life now that I have walked away from some of the old mindsets that I once had.

I've noticed another change. You see this week we have had a string of “Bad Luck.” At least that is what some people in the world would call it.

I run a small service company and for the life of me I can’t seem to keep our older minivans that we use in the business out of the shop. It has almost gotten comical. One van finally bit the dust due to a thrown piston – whatever that means - and so Husband took a trek to a dealership about an hour and a half away to buy a “new” van. He drove it home and on Saturday took it on an errand and it died. Yes he bought the short term warranty, it just goes to show the season of “luck” that we are now in.

Then last night I got a call from Husband's cell phone. It (the cell phone) was supposed to be with one of our daughters while visiting her sister in Philadelphia. Only it wasn’t my daughter on the phone. I could hear voices of a party that I was sure my kid wasn’t at. Sure enough she had left the phone in the car and the passenger side window was smashed and the phone gone. Not just any cell phone – the kind that you can get internet - $400 dollar kind.

It is things like this that have been happening with increased frequency over the past few weeks.

Now you need to know that a year ago I would have had three responses.

First I would have looked for any sin and especially rebellion that was present in our lives. (Yep this investigation would have spilled over into poor Husbands life as well.) I owe him a lot ;(

Then if finding no sin or rebellion I would have looked at our “giving.” After all I pretty much lived that we could buy God off - see my post on tithing here. We gave – He would protect our stuff. And since He obviously wasn’t on the job last night in Phily, it would be all our fault. Now if the giving was up, and frankly in our case it always was (although you could still feel guilty about not doing that “extra part” in whatever offering had been taken that week) then you had to move on to your third choice.

The third choice was that it was an “Attack of THE ENEMY.” (come one now…say it in your best Sponge Bob Hall Monitor voice) This choice was a good one. The “Attack of THE ENEMY” proposition left you feeling two things.

One, you felt kind of honored that THE ENEMY was coming against you. You must be doing something really important for God for THE ENEMY to single you out to steal your phone or make your cars not run. That made you feel good and it also gave you something to brag about to all your Christian friends that Sunday at church. They would pray long prayers for you that THE ENEMY would leave you alone and you would be protected.

But at the same time another feeling would kick in. We all know that we are not an angelic power. Satan has much at his disposal that he could hurt us with if he chooses and God allows. So in many ways, I again was left with fear. Fear that he had me in his sights and would take out something more important than a cell phone or a truck. I was always afraid.

WHAT AN AWFUL WAY TO LIVE!!!!!!!

How schizophrenic can one person get and still call it following God.

The change in me this week is that I didn’t attribute the things happening in our lives to our giving, my sin, my husbands sin or THE ENEMY.

I found myself living like the pagans do in a small way this week. I am just going to chalk it up to the fact that I live in the world. This world is broken. Trucks don’t last forever and there are broken people around who want to steal my stuff. No one sinned, no one deserved it for their disobedience in finances and I’m not going to make Satan more powerful and intimate than he deserves.

I know that we Christians hate the word Luck. I was taught to avoid it at all costs. No pot lucks when I was growing up. No wishing “Good Luck” to someone. No lucky rabbit’s foot in our pockets. You can't have your kids looking for 4 leaf clovers in the grass - at least not at the church picnic!

But every now and again, when it seems that life is just a bit lopsided toward the unwanted, it would be nice to be able to chalk it up to a bit of “bad luck” and not make it all the other huge things that I used to make it.

Can I have permission to use that word….just for today at least?

23 comments:

traveller said...

No need for permission from any of us. You are free, live in that freedom!

Katherine Gunn said...

Yes - use it as needed! ;-)

I understand. This is the same way of thinking prevalent at the church I left. I just had coffee with someone else who left there about the same time I did. She is still in this mindset. She fell and scraped her arm & leg & chin and sprained her wrist. Then she chipped her tooth. She believes it is because she was angry with someone (a minister that everyone who knows should be angry with!) and had thus moves into the ENEMY'S territory, allowing him to hurt her.

In essence, this whole thought model is nothing more than religious superstition. And superstition is always a fearful way to live. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Sorry, this went on this post instead

(Eccl 9:11 NIV) I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all.

I hate this verse as it messes with all my religious theology. The Hebrew term for "chance" is LUCK. Oh well.

co_heir said...

What a stroke of luck to read this. :) I used to be in the same three part mindset back in the day. When bad stuff happened I would look around trying to find out who or what had displeased God. Now I just chalk it up to the fact that because this world is broken, stuff happens.

It's interesting that God teaches me more now when stuff happens than I ever learned under the old way of thinking.

Erin said...

Thanks for sharing this, Barb. It's such a different world when our perspectives change.

Brother Maynard said...

Hope your luck changes! ;^)

Travis said...

ah, yes, does LUCK exist, as the "pagans" claim?! i've thought about this too, and, im still undecided (as i am on quite a few things, so i guess this probably isn't a surprise).

to me, it seems that if we concede that LUCK is the cause of the bad things happening in our life, what about the good things that happen? doesn't it make sense that it plays a part in the good also? yet those seem to be naturally attributed to God, and that LUCK had no part to play. (in fact, from what i've experienced, you are considered to have little faith or are ungrateful if you aren't thankful to God for the good things).

so if you attribute LUCK to the bad, you undermine God's involvement in the good.

from this, it's hard for me to accept that luck played a part in either (yet i don't like the other options presented!) like i said, im undecided! haha.
what are you thoughts? how do you juggle these two ideas?

Katherine Gunn said...

co_heir~

"It's interesting that God teaches me more now when stuff happens than I ever learned under the old way of thinking."

Smiling. SO true. I remember the first time I got a cold after leaving the church I used to be in. The mindset started to kick in ... and then I realized, having a cold does not mean I am a bad person and have done something wrong. As strange as it sounds, I went to bed and 'allowed' myself to be sick and need rest. Shaking head. What a concept.

Mike said...

Barb ~ This reminds me of something I told a Christian friend of mine about four years ago. The clutch went out on his truck and he assumed that it was an attack on him from "the enemy" to get at the money that he was tithing for the building of a new, bigger building.

What I asked him was, "Isn't it just possible that there are some things in this world that 'just happen'?"

It must be really convenient to be able to blame Satan for everything that goes wrong...

Tara said...

Great Post!This scripture is a grear reminder to me:
(Eccl 9:11 NIV) I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all.
I used to think this way too. Now when I hear others speak this babble I cringe!
God is so good. Life is hard. Things just break. Bad things happen to good people. This is nothing new under the sun.

Don said...

A great post, though I'm sorry for you about the circumstances causing you to write it!

Nowadays I believe more than I used to in 2 things:

1) God really is in control of everything, but
2) God doesn't exempt me from a lot of bad stuff, just because I'm a Christian and following him closely.

I finally accepted these two statements after years of watching my and others' lives, and also realizing that Jesus and the apostles -- filled with the Spirit and walking in God's will -- still endured pain, hardship, discouragement, imprisonment and even "early" death, that God certainly could've prevented.

That's given me a new level of peace, and compassion/empathy for others.

Years ago, my former pastor got into a car accident. Some people asked him with concern, "What do you think this accident 'means'?"

He told them, "It 'means' I need to take my car into the shop."

I liked that reply.

Ché Vachon said...

LOL, Barb.
I used to think the same way you did...boy, did the Enemy get alot of credit..:(
I will, however, interject this little idea:
maybe God is waiting for us to ask Him for something? Maybe this is another opportunity for Him to delight us with His humour, blessing and spontanaity?
I have begun to look at the type of circumstances that you have mentioned, in my life...and I'm finding that if I look past the crap, and start to hope that God is going to do something kinda cool..He does!
You know how frustrated I was with my washing machine woes...well, God provided me with a NEW SET!! With the contributions of caring friends, selling some furniture that I had re-finished, and a gov't rebate...I had enough!
I can hear God chuckle through it all, too...:)
Anyways, He loves to provide for you in ways that are a delight...
Just a little thought....

Brad said...

Wow ... what you describe has more in common with animism (spirits - often with a malicious intent - animating all supposedly "inanimate" objects) and "folk religion" (superstition) than with grace, overcoming, and love. Thanks for posting this - I haven't thought about this cluster of issues in a while. Looks like it's time to re-examine and see how much of this stuff, subtle or blatant, is still clinging to my beliefs and lifestyle. ...

I may have mentioned before the following book, which has an essay that explores and challenges such "Christian animism" that comes from an overemphasis on spiritual warfare: *Spiritual Power and Missions: Raising the Issues,* edited by Edward Rommen. Might find it a helpful resource ...

Brad said...

Wow ... what you describe has more in common with animism (spirits - often with a malicious intent - animating all supposedly "inanimate" objects) and "folk religion" (superstition) than with grace, overcoming, and love. Thanks for posting this - I haven't thought about this cluster of issues in a while. Looks like it's time to re-examine and see how much of this stuff, subtle or blatant, is still clinging to my beliefs and lifestyle. ...

I may have mentioned before the following book, which has an essay that explores and challenges such "Christian animism" that comes from an overemphasis on spiritual warfare: *Spiritual Power and Missions: Raising the Issues,* edited by Edward Rommen. Might find it a helpful resource ...

Mary said...

Great post and comments. I can relate to the "look for someone to blame" game. What I think of now is that Jesus never promised that bad things wouldn't happen, only that He would never leave us. I don't like the bad things and don't understand a lot, but I find comfort in knowing that Jesus is with me.

Barb said...

Thanks Traveller! I'm truly beginning to feel free.

Katherine, I can remember so many times I beat myself up or questioned Husband's actions based on how our week was going. It is superstition but one that people used the Bible to fuel.

Anon, (this was Husband) I remember when he found this verse...He loves it.

Co_heir. Ha! I know what you are saying. I'm learning so much about how the Father really loves me in the midst of things instead of trying to figure out why the stuff happens.

Erin, YEP!

Bro. Maynard. ME TOO!!


Travis, I always heard luck used both for good and the bad. Maybe we should be taught to be thankful in BOTH circumstances...There was a man who wrote something about that once I think ;0 I know that my outlook on this past week has showed me the Father's heart for me even when things are going wrong. But I think what you are saying is if God does not cause the Bad stuff how is it that we atribute the good stuff to him? Isn't he the author of both...but then you go down a hole that I can't go. Hmmm

Katherine, I remember the first time I got sick and allowed myself to be sick. My daughter's journey has really helped us with this one.

Mike, Yep that was exactly the kind of thinking we had. Crazy. It was like God allowed Satan to chip away at small stuff that would hinder the tithe but would not allow him to actually do some damage - like loosing our jobs and such.

Tara..God is so good. Life is hard. I like this

Don, How did we actually read the accounts of the disciples and come away with the "God will always bless me" mentality. How blind could I be? I love the pastor's response!

Che, Your comment makes me want to look expectantly for the hand of God in the next few weeks. I know He means it for good for me. Thanks so much.

Brad, Yep it is just old time religion - pagan that is. Thanks for the book referal.

Mary, We so often feel like Father must be looking the other way when bad things happen. It is a whole different concept to realize that he is not only with us but actually paying attention too.

Tera Rose said...

all that I have to say is,

"GOOD LUCK TO YOU"

lol

I can relate- I can so relate......

:)

Barb said...

Wow Tera, you had no idea but you are my first unmoderated comment. I decided to open them up as of tomorrow!!
Congrats. you should win a prize or something.

Jennifer F. said...

Once again, despite my totally different background I can relate to what you're saying. In my case, I spent some time being freaked out about the whole concept that God, and particularly the devil, exist -- what does that mean for me?! Is God going to let the devil attack me?! How would I even know if the devil was attacking me?! I just didn't know what to make of any of it, but now I feel much more calm about it now that I've grown in faith and gotten to know God a little better. :)

Also, I once got some great advice on this subject, and posted it here if you have any interest. I often refer back to that post since it was such excellent advice, and it's helped me understand how to seek God in all situations without going into my usual over-analysis mode.

Barb said...

Jennifer...I am amazed at the wisdom of your post. I am so self centered that everything has to revolve around me and my trying to control how things turn out. If I can figure out what THIS means in relation to THAT then I can pick the right choice so that THAT will turn out the way I want it to. And with that way of thinking I totally miss what Father is doing NOW.

Thanks so much for this. Everyone else....be sure to read the post she links to.

Jennifer F. said...

If I can figure out what THIS means in relation to THAT then I can pick the right choice so that THAT will turn out the way I want it to. And with that way of thinking I totally miss what Father is doing NOW.

Boy, can I relate to that!

Just wanted to thank you again for this thought-provoking post, and to let you know that I just put up a new post with some thoughts on this subject if you have any interest.

Barb said...

Jennifer, thanks so much. The new post is even better than the first one. I hope many read it and are freed from the insanity of lives that revolve around ourselves.

Liturgy Guy said...

I like to think of these runs of "bad luck" as opportunities. Maybe no sin, maybe not the Devil, maybe because the world is broken or lopsided. But one way or another, God is in charge and he lets it happen. Why? Saint Paul said: everything is a grace. "Bad luck" is an opportunity to grow, to become holier. It's like resistance training. We can get irritated, be impatient, lash out, or we can patiently submit ourselves to God's will, because He DID permit the "bad luck;" and thusly grow in holiness.

And as Jennifer F. points out in her linked post, it's not always about us. Our patience, or impatience will probably impact on someone or something else, and that is part of God's will too. When we respond well, with the help of God's grace, we can make it good.

And whatever happens, if we give thanks to God, as Heliotropium teaches, we can make anything good.