Coincidence is Gods way of remaining anonymous.
Of all mornings to oversleep it had to be the day of my 8 oclock doctors appointment at Fort Gordon.
Recently. Post 9-11. During the huge traffic slowdown at Gate 1.
Arrive 15 minutes early, my appointment card said, and stop by the records department on your way to the clinic to see if we have pulled your record.
I showered without the shampoo, skipped breakfast, and threw on clothes from the day before. Even then, I told myself as I rushed out the door, with prime school-bus time and a dozen traffic lights plus the long wait at the gate, Ill never make it. And if Im too late
Theyll cancel my appointment and it could be weeks before I can be rescheduled.
All the buses were either through their routes or hadnt arrived, all the lights were green, and almost all the early morning traffic had cleared the Fort Gordon gate. I arrived with five minutes to spare. Besides, the clinic already had my record, and my doctors next patient had just canceled. I could have stopped at Starbucks in the lobby on my way in, and still made my appointment on time.
Coincidence? I dont think so. But, isnt it a little arrogant to assume God cares enough about me to work out all those details at once? Especially when I had stayed up too late the night before, and I was the one who hit the snooze button instead of getting up when I first heard the alarm. And this wasnt an emergency. I was only there for a check-up so I could have my prescriptions refilled.
If this kind of thing hadnt happened so many times before, Id chalk it up to luck. Also, if it hadn't happened before, I probably would never think God had anything to do with it.
But sometimes it has been an emergency, like the time I passed another car going downhill, because I thought there was a broken, center line and I could see far enough ahead. The broken line turned out to be patched pavement, and the hill steeper than I thought. I cleared the sudden, oncoming car with seconds to spare.
Again, my fault. A hasty decision - perhaps another hasty journey - had clouded my judgment. I noticed my pavement error about the time I saw the car.
Valentines Day is almost here and, for weeks, advertisers have outdone themselves hyping ways to show our love to those who are important to us. Jewelry, heart-shaped candy, and more cards than we saw at Christmas time line the aisles of every store in town. Well buy, wrap, mail, and celebrate - for one day. For those we really love. Usually, for those who love us back.
The other day, during a discussion of the presidents new budget, a perceptive talk-show host led his guests in a discussion on patriotism.
Does patriotism mean flying the flag, singing the national anthem, praising the military as long as we seem to be winning the war? Or is it when some of those soldiers and Marines dont come home again, and we get the bill for our war on terror?
It was a sobering discussion. Like conditional love, conditional patriotism, one of the guests concluded, is false, too.
But we live in a conditional world. The bond between parents and children, or those who are deeply in love, may approach the unconditional, but the on-our-terms kind of love is more common. When the object of our affections disappoints us our devotion cools. When were angered or disobeyed, were not likely to stock up on gifts, or go out of our way to smooth the path of the guilty one.
God doesnt live in our world, on our terms, or withdraw His love from us when we dont live up to His. What we call coincidence is, for those who follow Him, God-incidence: another way to show His unconditional love for us.
For we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28).
(Barbara Seaborn is a local free-lance writer. E-mail comments to seabara @aol.com.)
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