Coincidences and God

Coincidences and God - Parenting Like HannahMost Christians are pretty diligent about teaching their children to thank God for His blessings. We train them from a very young age to pray and thank God for food, family, clothing and shelter. Have we trained them though to see God’s spectacular, overflowing blessings? I think many of us are missing a prime opportunity to teach our children the amazing ways God works.

You are probably thinking “She’s crazy. Of course, we teach our children about the amazing ways God works in our lives!” Bear with me, as I share a recent story from our life and the responses we hear from even extremely faithful Christians when we share it.

About a year ago, my daughter and I had an opportunity to hear Bob Goff, the author of Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World speak at a conference. He is a great speaker with a wonderful (and fun!) message about how to show God’s tremendous love to others. I bought the book for my daughter and it became her favorite book. His stories and his message just captured her imagination.

Over the next year, we laughed about how much she had re-read portions of the book and whether or not she would meet him if she attended her college of choice (where he is an adjunct law professor). Through a series of events we even had an unplanned trip to Disneyland and stopped by his “office” on Tom Sawyer Island to see if he were there. (He wasn’t.)

When we learned he was speaking at a conference in our town again this year, my daughter and I made plans to attend. I spent a lot of time trying to convince her to meet him, to no avail. She was just too shy and uncomfortable about the idea. At his speech though, she heard he was giving a more intimate talk the next day. “Do you think you can get tickets?”, she asked.

I asked around and it didn’t sound promising. We had to find a vendor the next morning and enter a drawing for tickets. The next day we walked up to the booth and asked about the drawing. The guy asked how many tickets we needed – he would just give them to us. At first we said two, but then he asked if we needed more. We thought for a second and asked if we could have two more for some friends who were also there. Suddenly, we had four tickets to the luncheon with Bob Goff in our hands.

When we offered the tickets to our friends, they couldn’t go and offered them to some people we didn’t know. We later found out those people changed their minds and offered them to two other people. At the luncheon, a man and woman walked up and asked if they could sit at our table. We welcomed them and my daughter went off in search of some tea and water.

While she was gone, I chatted with the new people about how much my daughter loved Mr. Goff, but was too shy to talk to him. My daughter returned to the table and we turned to greet other new people at our table. Suddenly out of nowhere, Bob Goff pounced on my daughter with a hug and a “Why haven’t we met yet?” As they chatted, she mentioned she was applying to attend the university where he worked as an adjunct law professor in the law school.

Mr. Goff, being the awesome guy he is, offered to write her a recommendation letter on his Ugandan Consulate stationery (seriously you need to read his book for that story alone!). As we enjoyed our lunch, we started talking to the man and woman we had met earlier. As the story came out, we were all more and more amazed.

We didn’t know it, but they were the recipient of our tickets that had now passed through several hands. When our backs were turned, the man had snuck over and explained the situation to Bob Goff, who immediately went into action. As my daughter and Mr. Goff were talking, they had been snapping photos on their phones for us. And the wildest part of all? As we talked, we realized the man who had helped my daughter meet Bob Goff was the son-in-law of my daughter’s mentor (he hadn’t recognized us either as he lives in another state)!

What is your first reaction to that story? What a coincidence? Wow, weren’t you lucky? Isn’t it funny how things work out sometimes? Persistence pays off?  These are the responses we get from most people, even Christians.

What did I teach my daughter about the experience? Look how many things God made happen so she could meet someone who is important to her. Not only that, but God threw in a special college recommendation as an added present to her. Too simplistic you say? Better to attribute it to coincidence or luck?

Go back through the story again. How many things had to happen for the story to have the ending it did? I can count at least ten different things that had to happen for the story to occur – and there are really a lot more than that if you want to get down to the nitty gritty.

Now statistics is not my favorite subject, but I would have to imagine the odds of all of those things happening the way they did by chance would be pretty high. Yet even Christians will quickly attribute the strange, amazing good things that happen to them to luck. I believe, however,  when God says He tamps down our cup and overflows it, that he means it.

Will bad things happen to us? Yes, we live in a fallen world. I believe the Bible teaches us good things come from God. Whenever anything good happens in the life of my daughter, I will always point her back to God. The next time something exciting happens to one of your children, make note of what you say. Take the words back if you need to and then point your children back to God – the source of all of our blessings.

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Thereasa Winnett

Thereasa Winnett is the founder of Teach One Reach One and blogger at Parenting Like Hannah. She holds a BA in education from the College of William and Mary. She has served in all areas of ministry to children and teens for more than thirty years and regularly leads workshops for ministries and churches. She has conducted numerous workshops, including sessions at Points of Light’s National Conference on Volunteering and Service, the National Urban Ministry Conference, Pepperdine Bible Lectures, and Lipscomb’s Summer Celebration. Thereasa lives in Atlanta, GA with her husband Greg, where she enjoys reading, knitting, traveling and cooking.

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