This weekend at my local Farmer’s Market, I experienced two women in high heels, short skirts, big hair, and ukeleles sing Bryan Adams’ hit song “Summer of ’69.” This classic song is a favorite of mine, but hearing it sung by women accompanied only by their ukeleles didn’t do it for me. But I was cleansed of this mildly disturbing experience when, by total random chance, I heard the original version of the song on a local radio station on the way home. I was struck by how odd it was that of all the songs in the world that could be played on any given radio station, THIS particular song came on at THIS particular time.
(Kind of reminds me of the scene in “Casablanca” where Rick says, “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world – she walks into mine.” But I digress.)
I remarked on this odd experience on Facebook, and a friend commented, “Coincidence? I think not.”
I replied, “See, it honestly WAS a coincidence! Or else God agreed with me, and he wanted me to hear the original version of the song, too. But I don’t usually think that God cares about things like that. :)”
She responded, “God cares about EVERYTHING in our lives.”
I wasn’t sure what to say next. Does God really care that I hear the “correct” version of an old rock ‘n roll song (a song that isn’t even promoting particularly Christian morals)? I always thought that God cares more about making sure I get to heaven rather than influencing my musical tastes.
But still, why did this happen? For that matter, why does anything happen?
I don’t know why I happened to hear the “correct” version of that song when I did, but ruminating over this experience has reminded me that there have been other seemingly meaningless events in my life that turned out to be very meaningful. Now when I reflect on those events, all I can ask is, “Why, God? Why did you let that happen to me? I wasn’t looking for it, it hadn’t even crossed my mind, but it happened.” And, if it’s an unexpected problem, I’m left asking God the question, “Now what do I do?”
Some of these have been good events, like a seemingly insignificant first conversation with the man who would eventually become my husband, or the Call process working itself out in various ways so that my life crosses paths with those of other people who I now call my dear friends, or having a good job land on my lap almost totally by chance. And sometimes other seemingly insignificant events have led to results that were more problematic. But so many times in my life, I wasn’t looking for something to happen, and yet somehow something DID happen, even when I didn’t realize it at the time, with many repercussions following in its aftermath. And often it wasn’t until those repercussions occured that I realized the enormity of what had happened in that first seemingly insignificant moment.
I suppose it’s easier to focus on the problematic events and whine about why those had to happen than it is to ponder the good events and marvel at the wonder of those happening at all. But I always try to come back to the fact that, whether an event is positive or negative, God is always working it out for good. Romans 8:28 is often used tritely, but it remains a powerful promise of God. When things happen in my life that I don’t understand, for good or for bad, the thought that God is working this out for good helps me to keep my focus in the right place.
But as life has gone on, I’ve also come to believe that sometimes God lets bad things happen to his children. God is not the author of evil, but he might let evil happen to us. God doesn’t tempt anyone, but he may allow his children to be tempted. God gifts us with unique personalities and gifts, but those very gifts from God might be what tempts us to draw away from him. The struggle to deny ourselves is a very real struggle for Christians, and it seems that that struggle doesn’t go away until the day we die.
I have so many questions about why things have happened in my life, from the small things like hearing a certain song on the radio to the big, life-altering events. I don’t know that I’ll ever know the answer to most of them. Perhaps, no matter what the event, God is giving me an undeserved blessing, or perhaps he’s teaching me a spiritual lesson in patience or wisdom or how to be content. But no matter what, he’s always weaving together the random threads of my earthly life into something good for my spiritual life.
And all of this from hearing some random women sing a random song in the Farmer’s Market! Perhaps my friend was right after all. Perhaps nothing really is a coincidence, at least not if you’re a Christian.