In the game of Poker, if you don’t get a good hand the best you can do is pretend you got it goin’ on and, A – hope that your bluff works and, B – hope that the next hand you’re dealt is better than the last. In the game of Solitaire, there’s no possible way to play a bad hand well enough to win – you get what you get. But in the game of Bridge, you don’t ever play alone and despite the hand dealt to you (and your partner) skill is the most important thing you can both have. Even greater than probability, in Bridge, the better you play, the better your chances of turning things around for yourself.
I like the saying, “Life is a deck of cards.” It’s a clever thought to think we all can ‘play’ what we’re dealt in life in such a way to turn a ‘bad hand’ into a winning one. My favorite inspirational place to read from in the Bible is the book of Ecclesiastes. Solomon, a man before his time, sets out to question, challenge and experiment with all things ‘life’; he considers life with and without God, with and without rules.
…The words of Solomon from Ecclesiastes 2:10 – paraphrasing from KJV:
“Anything I saw that I wanted, I got it. Anything that made me feel good, I did it. If it made my heart happy, I indulged in it without reservation. I figured, I had worked for it, it was my money, I deserved it, and so I spent it how I wanted to spend it and I did with it what I wanted to do. It was my gift to myself in this life.”
If you are like me, about right now you might be thinking Solomon sounds like a pretty cool guy. He was filthy rich, independent, extremely intelligent, liked to laugh and have fun, wasn’t afraid of having a good time, a free spirit, a leader of people, world famous, a king… this man lived life big. Who wouldn’t want a taste of that kind of life?
The beautiful thing about Ecclesiastes is that as you read about how Solomon lives his life, you get a sense that he dabbles with being a wild child not to be rebellious, but to find the wisdom in the meaning of life; in doing so, he answers the big question for all us, “Is life a deck of cards?” Solomon answers, “Heck yeah, it is!”
“Vanity of vanities,” is what he called life. “All is vanity,” Solomon said. In this context the word vanity means: the quality of being worthless or futile. Solomon observed that “time and chance happens to everyone”. He calculated that probability played a huge part in the life of every person regardless of their efforts or even the lack thereof. What I get from Solomon is that (forgive me for being so blunt) he would have been the kind of person with a pick-up truck and that bumper sticker, you know the one that says, “$H!% Happens.”
Solomon’s words were made famous through another writer, I’m sure you’ve heard of him – Charles Dickens (yeah, Dickens must have read the Bible cuz this is soooo out of the Book of Ecclesiastes chapter 3):
“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted. A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up. A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance….”
Solomon realized for all of us that rich or poor, young or old, black or white, lucky or unlucky (including the parts that make sense and the parts that don’t) that everyone in THIS LIFE, ends up in the same kind of seasons. Death comes all too quickly and none of us leave with anything. Likewise, our reputation or even our legacy will eventually be forgotten. Another will come after us, claiming the same sorrows or victories, as if they were the first. Solomon said, “Nothing is new under the sun.”
After exploring every aspect of life, Solomon found that human ego was full of vanity. He noted that obviously there were consequences for our actions and there were predictable (and unpredictable) outcomes due to our choices but still yet, after weighing it all in the balances, he could not get over that little thing called ‘chance’, and for that, he didn’t believe any of us could completely control our own destiny.
…The words of Solomon from Ecclesiastes 8:16,17 & 9:1 & 12:14 – paraphrasing from KJV:
“When I applied my heart to know wisdom and to see the business that is done on the earth; I saw the work of God, that man cannot find out how God has done all the work that He has done under the sun. Even though a man labors to figure it out, he cannot. And even though a wise/educated man thinks he knows how it all works, still he can’t say he knows for sure – he is not able to find unquestionable proof (of his own theories).”
“I deeply considered all of this in my heart and have concluded that the best people in the world (the righteous) and the most educated (the wise) and all their works (research and studies) are IN THE HAND OF GOD.”
“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear/Revere God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”
For me, I find grace in Solomon’s wisdom from the Book of Ecclesiastes. There’s this balance of doing what you can do and letting go of what you can’t. There’s wisdom in considering life as a deck of cards in that, it is true, we don’t all have the same advantage. And if skill and will power are somehow the equalizing agents – well, we don’t all seem to be able to acquire the same levels of those either. Some people learn quickly and others… not so much!
The inspiration here is to not be too hard on ourselves or on others. If life is a deck of cards, we should play them in the game of Bridge – taking God as our skilled partner. In spite of all the bad things that may happen, if we place our hope in God, regardless of the fact that we do not live life with a good hand, we can still live life IN good hands.