I was thinking something totally different when I came up with the title for this posting and then in trying to find an appropriate photo to go along with some of my thoughts I ran across page after page of these kind of photos.
Omikuji are random fortunes written on strips of paper at Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples in Japan. Literally sacred lottery, these are usually received by making a small offering (generally a five-yen coin as it is considered good luck) and randomly choosing one from a box, hoping for the resulting fortune to be good. In the beginning of a new year, Japanese people gathered to visit different shrines and pray for a good year. Basically, it is no different from getting a Chinese fortune cookie. I knew that there was more to the Chinese fortune cookie than just “for fun.”
So when does a lottery become sacred and is there such a thing, especially in light of the fact that we are stewards, masters, responsible for setting the course?
Obviously, if we put God into the equation, we might be able to come to the place of calling such an act, sacred.
I think, in the Bible, there are quite a few references to what it describes as “casting lots,” a lottery of sorts and it was sacred in the sense that God was given the process and was asked to determine the outcome according to His plan.
I believe that happen with Aachen who stole some produce from Jericho – lots were cast from tribe to clan, to family, to household, to the exact person in the household. It happened when the Israelis divided up the Promised Land upon their arrival. It happened with Jonah as the people who owned the boat determined who was the cause of the storm. It happened when the disciples had to choose a new member to the group because of the loss of Judas. These just come to my mind at the moment – might be a few more.
I remember I did something like this to determine what mission field I should consider pursuing. I filled a basket with the names of certain countries (can’t remember the criteria for the choices) and then asked God to help me pick the right one – it was Japan. I ordered the languages lesson and learned a few lessons and that was it. Maybe it counts that after 30 years my daughter, while in university, decided to spend the summer in Japan with a musical team.
I also remember a really sacred time when I was 14 years old. Having pursued God to the best of my abilities and not moving a millimeter further into that relationship after 2 years (12 to 14), I decided to give up on God. Laying on my bed I realized how does one give up on God. So I picked up my Bible and said, “God, this is your last chance, you best speak to me now if you really want me.” So, with eyes closed, I randomly (lottery) opened my Bible, and randomly (lottery) put my finger on a page. Opening my eyes to the verse that supposedly He had chosen for me. It was – “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.” I landed on Psalm 32:8 in my New King James Bible.
All I can say is that my life changed. I sensed the presence of God with a peace that passes all understanding and description. I can only describe it as a sense of comfort, strength, courage, adventure, protection, safety, trust – something you feel when you are hugging the one person you love very much. Similar, only better.
So, even if we are supposed given the rights to lead, sometimes we have to follow. When God leads, I think He uses whatever He needs to get our attention and move us where we need to be.