I recently had a conversation with a friend who stated that it’s not that he doesn’t believe in God…it’s just that he’s not sure he believes in a benevolent God.
Hmmm…that was a new one for me. No God? Possible. God who wants bad for people? Much harder for me to grasp. (It’s the devil’s job to be bad, and God’s job to be good, right?)
So of course that started me thinking about the reasons I believe in a benevolent God. Not a God who steps in to fix things. Not a God who prevents evil. But a God who wants good things for me, even if I manage to muck it up much of the time.
I could list lots of things – snuggly children. (Could be preservation of the species. If they’re snuggly, you’re less likely to kill them.) A day with low humidity after a summer of 70+ dewpoints. (Could be just random weather. Or more preservation of the species. If the humidity is down, I’m less likely to kill people.)
But the best I can come up with is my experience that there are no coincidences in life. That experience of the exact right person with the exact right experience, or the exact right wisdom, or the exact right piece of knowledge, showing up in my life at exactly the right time.
Like the time I was at a conference (at the ripe old age of 23) and confided to a man that I’d just met that I was thinking about going to business school but that I was scared to quit my job. And he said, “My firm just conducted a survey of the best business schools in the country and Kellogg came out at the top of the list. My daughter just graduated from there. You can go stay with her for a weekend in New York and learn more about it.” And then I did. (I’m sure she must have been ready to kill him for sticking him with a stranger in her apartment for a weekend.) No coincidence.
Or the many times I’ve been searching for information…the times I was considering job changes and came upon just the right person with just the right angle on the situation. The times I was struggling with a kid issue and came upon someone who had faced exactly the same thing.
But the best example was on Sept. 11. 2o01, when we were stranded in London and I was so scared that I’d never get home, and I prayed for God to send me a sign that everything would be fine, and then I walked into the American Airlines office and standing in line ahead of me was the mom of one of Emma’s classmates who was stuck in London too. Emma changed schools soon afterward, so I only saw that mom one more time, several years later, when she explained to me that she too had prayed for a sign that everything was going to be ok, and then SHE saw ME standing in that line. No coincidence.
In most cases these people disappeared from my life immediately (or soon after) after our encounter. We didn’t stay in touch, or even pretend that we would. We just had a moment. Or a few moments. Or a few days.
Now, I know that I played my own part in these experiences. I opened up to the people in question. Shared with them what was going on in my life or in my mind at that moment. Invited them in to my life.
Do I believe that God picked them up and put them there? No. I don’t know how it happened. But I just can’t believe that it was random. For me, it was evidence.