Pilgrim’s Process: Roll of the Dice?

Roll of the Dice

By the Revd Dr Peter Sanlon

The sense and awareness that God is in control of all aspects of our journey to heaven is most reassuring to the pilgrim. The next step on our journey to the celestial city may be unclear to us, but we can trust that all has been planned by the God who loves us. The wise pilgrim knows that ‘the lot is cast into the lap, but its every throw is from the Lord’ (Prov. 16:33). This proverb takes the inanimate and seemingly random practical world and affirms that God is in control of that. Jesus on the other hand spoke of a small and seemingly insignificant member of the animal kingdom: ‘Not a sparrow falls to the ground except by the will of my Heavenly Father’ (Mat. 10:29). There are severe and stern disasters that bring tears and loss into our lives. Even such events are under God’s control. The prophet Amos asks, ‘Does disaster come to a city and it not come from the hand of the Lord?’ (Amos 3:6) We learn in Prov. 21:1 that ‘the king’s heart is like a stream in the hand of the Lord, he turns it whichsoever way he pleases.’ Calvin asks why a king is spoken of in this verse? The reason he gives is that the king would be the person who holds apparently complete freedom of action – wealth, soldiers, staff; all ensure the king is the member of society most free to act. So if even his heart’s desires are in reality under the governing power of God, then we can be assured that all other people live under God’s oversight.

So as we journey to heaven, we are assured that all inanimate objects, all seemingly random events, all animal life, all disasters, and all people, are fully under God’s sovereign power. In our foolish moments we think life would be better if we were more in control. I find a memorable antidote to such temptations is the hymn by John Parker – English Methodist minister who emigrated to the American colonies and then served in the Civil War. His hymn ‘God holds the Keys of all Unknown’ is well worth memorisation:

1 He holds the key of all unknown,

And I am glad;

If other hands should hold the key,

Or, if He trusted it to me,

I might be sad,

I might be sad.


2 What if tomorrow’s cares were here

Without its rest?

I’d rather He unlocked the day

And as the hours swing open say,

“My will is best,”

“My will is best.” 


3 The very dimness of my sight

Makes me secure;

For, groping in my misty way,

I feel His hand; I hear Him say,

“My help is sure,”

“My help is sure.”


4 I cannot read His future plans,

But this I know;

I have the smiling of His face,

And all the refuge of His grace,

While here below,

While here below.


5 Enough; this covers all my wants,

And so I rest;

For, what I cannot, He can see,

And in His care I safe shall be,

Forever blest,

Forever blest.


The Revd Dr Peter Sanlon is the rector of Emmanuel Anglican Church in Tunbridge Wells.