Did you know that ninety-five percent of what sets the course of our lives is completely outside our control? This would include such things as the century in which we were born, who our parents and family are, our childhood environments, physical stature, IQ, natural talents, and many of the circumstances we find ourselves in.
Now I have to admit that up until this past week if someone had said this to me – and assuming the genius who quantified this statistic is correct – my ego would have been blown to smithereens. Why? Because I had always liked to believe I had made it all on my own – one hundred percent – that I am a self-made man. Instead, the most I can take credit for is five percent at best?!! But this past week as my thoughts have been occupied with the earthquake victims in Haiti it has caused me to consider otherwise; for if my life which is filled with good fortune is ninety-five percent circumstantial then surely the same must hold true for the thousands upon thousands of Haitian victims who have been stricken by misfortune.
So what does all this mean? Well, first of all for me it is a humbling realization that most of my blessed life has been a gift rather than something earned or deserved. But perhaps more importantly since ninety-five percent of my good fortune is a gift which was neither earned or deserved, my conscience challenges me to consider if it is all mine to keep. And as Haiti reminds us there is tragedy, loss, poverty, brokenness, and devastation all around. So shouldn’t much be expected from those of us to whom much has been given?
Which gets back to the statistic: If in fact ninety-five percent of what sets the course of our lives is completely outside our control, meaning it is circumstantial, that leaves only five percent over which we can control. But it is within that five percent that we are given the power to choose what we do with the other ninety-five. What are you doing with yours?