Why Life Isn’t Fair (an Occasional Series)
Imagine life as a big Funnel, wide at the top, then gradually narrowing to a hole at the bottom. The top is the start of your life, the bottom is the end. You are a beautiful marble whose journey consists in fulfilling your life’s purpose before you reach the end.
Now, in a closed system the journey is simple: You’re thrown into the Funnel, and you’re on your way. Depending on how the birth-toss goes, you might have a rough start. Or maybe the Funnel is a bit bumpy, so by the end you’ve got some chips and scratches. But it’s still essentially a straight shot to the bottom.
Except that the Funnel isn’t just your life, it’s everyone’s. In other words, it’s not a closed system, it’s an open system into which other marbles are being constantly thrown. Here are some variables in this system:
- Marbles tossed in long before you arrived dented and scratched the surface of the Funnel, affecting the smoothness of your roll.
- Marbles around you frequently carom off one another into you, sending you off course.
- Some marbles become enamored with fake purposes (hedonism, materialism, self-worship, other addictions) and begin moving sideways, bumping you still further off course.
- You fall in love with a gorgeous cat’s eye. You marry and have adorable baby marbles. And you love them so much that when they go astray you veer off to rescue them.
- The Creator of the Funnel frequently tilts it, sending you careening toward other marbles, for reasons understood only by Him (He seems to have a far more complicated purpose than yours).
Problem: You can’t just roll to your goal—because others, including the Creator himself, refuse to play by your rules!
Where’s the fun in the Funnel?
Early in our marriage, my wife and I adopted a lop-eared bunny named Flopsy-Jean, and soon regarded her as our anthropomorphic child. One morning an earthquake struck (good old California). Flopsy-Jean, who’d been grazing on the carpet nearby, vaulted over to me, squeaking in terror. “Make it go away!”
I explained as best I could that I had no control over earthquakes. She didn’t believe a word of it. Instead she gave me that “you have betrayed me” look pets are so good at, and hopped off to the pantry to hide.
Like Flopsy-Jean, we think everything is about us, and feel keenly betrayed when our appeals fail to bring reparation. We persist in believing we live in a closed system. But we don’t. Does that mean our lives have no purpose? To the contrary, they have a greater purpose than any we could ever invent.
Some years back, in a particularly dark section of the Funnel, I repeatedly asked myself, “What is it I want?” But there was never an answer. Then one day I realized I’d been asking the wrong person. I believed in the Funnel Creator, but had somehow gotten into the habit of thinking the Funnel was mine. It wasn’t. (If it was, I’d have lost all my marbles long ago.)
So I did an experiment: Every time I had the impulse to ask, “What is it I want?” I’d turn and ask the Creator, “What is it You want?” And soon a voice began whispering back,
“Well, it’s about time.”
“You do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of your Creator.” ~Deuteronomy 8:3