Sunday, October 10, 2010

Buying a Ticket

"And these signs shall follow them that believe...they shall speak with new tongues." -- Mark 16:17, King James Bible

"Yo! You best protect your neck." -- RZA

There is an old story/legend/parable about a man who interacts with either God or St. Peter (depends on the version being told), where he wonders why, despite his daily prayers and devotion, God did not let him win the lottery. The punchline is some variant of "You could've met him could've bought a ticket." One version is pasted in here below:

One day Georgios Georgiou prayed, "Good Lord, I just received a notice from the bank that they are going to foreclose on my restaurant if I do not make a payment right away. I do not have the money. Good Lord, you are Greek and I am Greek. Help me to save the restaurant that's been in my family for three generations. Panagitsa, help me when the lottery." Mr. Georgiou did not win. The next week, Georgios prayed again, "Thee mou, didn't you hear me? This is your obedient servant. I must win the lottery to save the restaurant. Please, O Kyrios, help to win the lottery." He didn't win. The bank repossessed the restaurant. In tears, Georgios prayed again, "O Lord, why did you let me down? The restaurant is gone. What am I going to do? Oh, why did You fail me?" Suddenly, a voice came from the clouds, "Georgaki, you could have met Me halfway. You could have bought a lottery ticket."

I've heard it told many times, and I love it for the same reason I love the "Ask, Seek, Knock" message in Matthew 7:7 -- if you believe, as I do, that God created the world and built humans in his image, then you might agree with me on the importance of living in the world as a part of it, rather than apart from it.

I don't write here about my faith often -- maybe because it's personal, or maybe just because it's so automatic that I don't even think to discuss it. But when I do, I should also add that I have faith in many things that I can't necessarily see or touch, but believe in. I have faith in people's basic sense of honesty and decency. I have faith in the orderliness of the society around me. I even place faith in Jim Harbaugh's ability to call plays from the sideline when down in the last minute.

None of those run counter to my faith in the Almighty or my belief in the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth. And neither of those runs counter to faith in medical innovations which, within just half a generation's timespan, can change a situation from certain permanent disability to a high probability of full recovery.

If you like to hold dangerous reptiles, speak unintelligible words, walk on coals, or whirl like a dervish, that's your choice. If that's how you express your faith, then so be it.

I'll be okay with the less-dramatic, but far more spectacular, miracles made possible by things that exist in the world around me.

In other words, I'll be the guy making a beeline for the ticket window right after the "Amen" is said and the hands come unclasped.

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