Over the years, I have become a student of the phenomenon known as "luck." I began to wonder just what it was that caused certain fortunate events to happen the way they did, and whether that cause was attributable to blind chance or something deeper and more meaningful. I'm not sure if that wonder sprouted from the soul-searching that comes from old age, or the fact that those events seemed to be happening with more frequency. What I am sure of is that analysis was definitely called for to explain my "lucky" life.
It used to be, when I was much younger, I never gave good fortune much thought. I always figured I was in the right place at the right time, and went merrily on my way, appreciating the happiness that luck brought to me.
For example, when I was in college in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, I used to drive home to Mississippi on some weekends to visit the family. The first 100 miles was through the woodlands of L.A. (lower Arkansas) on two-lane roads, which rarely had shoulders and which followed the "lay of the land." This sometimes produced sudden unexpected surprises.
I was driving down Highway 8 one Friday afternoon, starting to feel a little drowsy, when I came to a little community called Manning. The highway made a 90 degree right turn. I did not. I went barreling down Dallas County Road 332, a dirt road with more holes than a whack-a-mole game.
I came to a sliding stop a hundred yards past the turn, my heart racing and in a sudden sweat ... because the last thing I saw before I left the highway was the grill of a large log truck whizzing by my right window. One second was the difference between my short side trip and another trip that would probably have required a hearse.
I got back on Highway 8, and for the next 50 miles considered the incredible luck I had been privileged to have.
Fast forward fifty years. There was a dying 50-foot pine tree next to my driveway. I kept thinking I needed to drop the tree, but never got around to it. One stormy night, the need to drop the tree became moot, because it fell on its own.
My truck was parked in the driveway, about five feet from the corner of my house. The tree fell between my truck and my house, with virtually no clearance at all, laid down as if some giant hand had picked it up and gently placed it there to avoid catastrophe. One foot to the left, and my truck is totaled. One foot to the right, and my house sustains tens of thousands of dollars in damage.
In my first example, I attributed my good fortune to luck. In the second case, I knew better. The fact is, there is no such thing as "luck." There is the almost constant – sometimes miraculous – intervention of Providence on our behalf to guard us, guide us, and protect us, even if it's from our own folly.
It's the season of Thanksgiving. And I will ever be thankful to the Creator for His protection and blessing.