I’ve never played craps and don’t really like gambling, but if I was going to gamble I suppose craps would be my game. Slots are too easy for the house to skew in their favor, and cards are just too complicated. With craps it’s just you, the dice, and the hand of God. Not that I think God is really into helping people out with their gambling, so don’t go thinking I’m advocating this as a method of finding God’s blessing. I really just want to use craps as an analogy for life.
Here’s how craps works. You hold the dice in your hand. As long as you hold onto them, you aren’t really in the game. You can’t win or lose. As soon as you let go of the dice, the outcome is completely out of your control and all you can do is hope for a 7 or 11, or at least to not get a 2, 3, or 12. For a split second the outcome is unknown – the dice are in the air and you’re just waiting. Once the dice land, you either win, lose, or get to keep playing.
Sometimes life is like a game of craps. If you try to stay in control of everything you aren’t really in the game. If you don’t take risks, you miss out on potential blessings. Sometimes you have to let go of the dice. Other times you don’t have any choice because they are forced from your hand. But at any rate, you are bound to face periods of uncertainty in life when the outcome of something – a job interview, or medical tests, or a romantic relationship – is uncertain.
The uncertainty may, as in craps, last only a moment. But often we find ourselves staring at the dice as they just hang in the air for what seems like forever. Why don’t they land already so we will know what’s going to happen? We impatiently await the job offer, or test results, or the opportunity to meet someone we can love. We don’t like to wait.
But wait we must. The only thing we can control is how we wait. We can let the waiting make us miserable, or we can trust that God is in control.
My church has been going through just such a waiting period as we seek a permanent lead pastor. Each member of the congregation is handling it in their own way; some are waiting more patiently than others. We know God is in control and will bring the right lead pastor for us if we trust in Him, but the waiting is still hard.
But there is one person who is an amazing example of trusting in God because the uncertainty of this situation in multiplied for him. That is our interim pastor. The rest of us really want to know who our lead pastor will be and when he will be here so we can move forward as a congregation, but church still goes on week after week while we wait. For our interim pastor, the calling of a permanent lead pastor will be the end of his call with us, and right now he has no idea when that will be. Where he will serve the Lord when his service with us is completed is also uncertain. The possibilities are many, but the outcome is uncertain.
And yet he has been a wonderful encouragement and witness to the rest of us of how to trust in God for the outcome. He is at peace with the situation, knowing that when the dice fall they will fall as God wills. He knows that while the dice are in the air, they are really in the hand of God. He sees and points us to the ways in which God has already been in control of the process in a very real way, right down to opening up a Sunday for our current pastoral candidate to preach for us and to meet the congregation.
So what uncertainty do you have in your life right now? Have you just thrown the dice or have they been hanging in the air for what seems like an eternity? Take heart, God is in control. When the time is right, He will cause the dice to fall as they should. Trust in Him for His perfect timing in all things. When you trust in Him, you will know peace instead of misery, even in the most challenging rolls of life’s game of craps.
You will keep in perfect peace
him whose mind is steadfast,
because he trusts in you.
Trust in the LORD forever,
for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal.
Isaiah 26:3-4 (NIV).