August 05, 2014

You Really Think You're in Control?

By Brittany Tedesco

At the beginning of the movie, Slumdog Millionaire, young Jamal seems well-adjusted to the squalor of the slum in India in which his single mom is raising him. But when she’s killed by an angry mob, the poverty crashes down on him.

Under 10 years of age, he’s naïve and vulnerable. While scrounging in a garbage dump, he and his brother are approached by unscrupulous men who end up using them.

Throughout the rest of the film, we follow Jamal as he tries to forge his way through destitution, collecting experiences as he goes—experiences which will later enable him to correctly answer questions on a game show and win big prize money.

Words like “destiny” and “it is written” are frequently used in the movie, lest we attribute the series of events in Jamal’s life to chance and coincidence.

What about us? Do you ever wonder how much control we really have in our own lives and the lives of others? Has God predetermined everything…or has He left room for our intervention?

“Ha, ha, ha, bless your soul. You really think you’re in control?” sings artist Gnarls Barkley in the song "Crazy."

Perhaps I’m crazy to think we actually have control. The Bible tells us that “the mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps” (Proverbs 16:9 NASB). But the Bible also provides us with examples of how people, through things like prayer and money, seemingly changed the course of other people’s lives.

In one of my previous posts, I asserted that prayer changes things. I’d be lying, though, if I told you I understood the mechanics of it. “‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the Lord” (Isaiah 1:18). He beckons me to talk to Him, and so I do. I talk to Him about other people…not knowing if their destinies are already “written,” or if I actually hold a measure of control over them.

We received a note from a houseparent at a school for underprivileged children who live way below the U.S. poverty line. She just happens to be a Christian who just happens to be intentional about sharing Christ with the children in her care, one of whom is an 8-year-old girl named Dynasty. Every night, Dynasty uses our “Prayerline Kids” publication to pray for the native missionaries Christian Aid assists. She just recently sent us her entire month’s allowance of $5.

“She is able to understand that even though she has very little here, there are many in this world with huge needs and so much less,” wrote the houseparent.

What would’ve become of this little girl with the heart of gold had she not been rescued by someone with the means to help and the faith to pray?

Money is a weird thing. Too much of it and a child can become spoiled and entitled. Too little of it and a child is more likely to live in unsafe neighborhoods, suffer from abuse and/or neglect, receive less parental supervision, experience failure in school, abuse alcohol or illegal substances, become a pregnant teenager, etc.

My sister and brother-in-law adopted a little girl who experienced some of the above listed effects of poverty. She’s now in a caring home where she’ll learn of Jesus’ love for her. Was she destined to escape her situation? Or would she have continued down an unfortunate trajectory had my sister not intervened with prayers and resources?

Much like Jamal in Slumdog Millionaire, Perumal was a young boy in India—just 2 years old—when his parents died. When he turned 6, his grandmother brought him to an orphanage, which just happened to be run by a ministry assisted by Christian Aid’s child sponsorship program.

“Here, he completed his education and was trained as a welder. He now works for a company as a welding assistant and has rented a small house nearby,” wrote the ministry leaders in a recent letter to us.

“He visits us every weekend, and we still think of him as a member of our family. We thank you for sponsoring him from his childhood. You have helped us to mold him into a respectable citizen and a committed Christian. You may stop sponsoring Perumal. In fact, Perumal has started financially assisting us.”

Someone sponsored Perumal. Someone intervened with prayer and money. Did they change the course of his destiny? Do we have that much control? I don’t know, but it sure doesn’t hurt to act like we do.

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