Deism is a philosophy popular in the 17th and 18th centuries. It asserted God created the world but does not interact with people. I suppose it let God off the hook when wars, plagues and other disasters occurred; there was no reason to blame Him or ask why. But then, his creatures wouldn’t feel the need to praise Him or relate to Him either.
While never a Deist, I resisted the idea that God could be that intimately involved in my puny, insignificant life while keeping the universe in check. I believed my life’s story was driven by random encounters like marbles bouncing off each other in a box. God loved me, but was not driving my experiences. I could make choices and act according to my free will, and when events collided nicely, I called it “serendipity.” Gotta love that serendipity!
I questioned my point of view when too many “co-incidences” suddenly popped into my life. As I studied the Bible at home and in church, I began to wonder if, despite all logic, this awesome God loved me so personally He would deliberately place markers on my path to lead me to Him. Thirteen years ago, two horrendous months in Florida proved that He did, beyond any doubt.
My husband became seriously ill not once, but several times as he rotated in and out of a Florida hospital and finally, a rehab facility. Then I made connections I had not seen before.
It was not a co-incidence that when I was wrestling with the decision to transfer him to another facility that my dearest friend, a hospital clinician, called me at that very moment for an update. Amid tears, we decided it would be best that he remain where he was.
It was not a co-incidence that, as I was speaking to his fraternity brother on my cell phone, the rehab facility called on our land line to tell me they had just sent my husband back to the hospital. As I hung up one phone, I cried out to his friend on the other. Orren is a strong Christian and his prayers in that minute gave me strength. I didn’t even need to call him. He was literally in my other ear.
It was not a co-incidence that as I argued with the nursing staff about my honey’s care, that the chaplain from the nearby church put her arm around me and said, “Before I was a chaplain, I was a masters prepared nurse, and you are absolutely correct.”
It was not a co-incidence that Gene’s cousin, Marie, and her husband who lived nearby “suddenly” thought they should call us. Marie is also a nurse and holds a doctorate in psychology. Talk about love and support!
No, those things (and many more) were not co-incidences. They were instances of God caring for his hurting creature. Now I call them “God-incidents.” But I had a question for this caring God. Why was He lovingly putting planks before me on the bridge of this raging river we apparently had to cross, while He was plunging my husband into its roiling water?
It occurred to me then that God did not owe me an explanation, any more than He did Job when that poor man asked the same question. God had answered Job, “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me if you understand.” (NIV Job 38: 2-4).
My God is not a heavenly Pez dispenser of good things. My God knows far better than I what is needful. I am His creature, not the other way around. He owes me no explanation and in fact, I probably may not understand His reasons if He told me. I realized later, that although my husband seemed near death twice, he was never in danger. God was holding him in the palm of His hand, all the while he mercifully supported me. Gene later fully recovered.
It was a lesson in walking by faith and not by sight. And now I’m convinced that serendipity is simply another name for “God Who Loves.”