They’re bro’s but they’re bullies. Where you see one, you know the other is often lurking. Though you might be able to avoid them for awhile, there’s always this low-lying dread that you’re going to run into them at the least desirable moment. When you do run into them, at their best they’re frustrating — at their worst, they can sometimes be fatal. One is extremely predictable, it’s not a matter of if he’s going to bite you but when. The other? Well, he’s the opposite. You have no idea when he’ll show up and turn things upside down. They’re bullies. And where they thrive is “under the sun.” Their names are Time and Chance.
Chewing on a verse in Ecclesiastes 9 this morning. The Preacher continues to try and make sense of life under the sun. Trying to find something that our hands can find to do that doesn’t eventually find itself being “vanity of vanities” (ESV), “absolute futility” (CSB), “meaningless” (NIV), or “smoke, nothing but smoke” (MSG). And no matter what road he walks down, regardless of what path he explores, he ends up at a dead end. Literally.
. . . .for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.
What’s more, down every road, along every path, inevitably there’s going to be one or more encounters with the bully bothers, Time and Chance.
Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all.
(Ecclesiastes 9:11 ESV)
She’s the fastest gal on the track. He’s the strongest, best-armed dude on the battlefield. But on the final leg of the race she trips. In the heat of battle a randomly shot arrow “luckily” (for the enemy) finds it’s mark in the chink of his armor. They’re both the best at what they do. But Time and Chance come along and neither of them walks away as victor. Under the sun.
He’s shrewd and cunning. Not just book smart but street smart. Knows how to navigate life and make the most of a situation. She’s brilliant, has an above average IQ and is not afraid to use it. Able to discern, able to learn, and with unlimited potential to monetize her brilliance. At least under the sun. But circumstances beyond his control shipwreck his plans and he can’t even put food on the table. And for her, she either can’t find someone to give her chance to pitch her ideas or someone smarter than her beats her to the punch, and she’s left working a minimum wage job. How come? Time and Chance. The wrong place at the wrong time. Or the right place without enough time. Or the right place with enough time but derailed by unforeseen circumstances. Did I mention frustrating? How about unfair?
But what if Time and Chance were to lose their super powers? Spoiler alert: They have!
Their powers are only operative if we are limited to life under the sun. But for those who live with minds set “on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Col. 3:2), Time and Chance give way to Faith and Hope. Seeming randomness is displaced by Sovereign purposes. The pursuit of perishable prizes for earthly triumphs gives way to the promise of imperishable crowns with everlasting glory. Time is swallowed up by Truth. Chance is deposed by the One In Charge.
And so, we run the race to the best of our ability. We enter the fray having put on the full armor of God. We use our brains, deploy our skills, compete to win, without fear of Time and Chance. Rather, we fight the good fight as those who just want to be faithful. Trusting that the Father has ordained for us just the right amount of time and has left nothing to chance. For He is faithful who has called us (1Cor. 1:4-9).
By His grace. For His glory.