Nate and I were born ten days apart but grew up not knowing each other, and our families didn’t meet until after we did. Our childhoods unfolded in similar ways, though, starting with wild tales told by our mothers of what it was like to labor and deliver in hospitals without air conditioning, in August. (My mother’s quote: “A trip to hell’s door.”)
This week, while looking through Nate’s old photographs, I came across a childhood parallel I’d never noticed before. I found a picture I knew I’d seen someplace else. Paging through one of Mom’s old albums, there it was. Her photo mirrors Nate’s.
The pictures were taken of each family vacationing in Silver Springs, Florida, about to take a ride on a glass-bottom boat, popular entertainment back then. They would view brightly colored fish, sunken ships and scuba divers who were busy finding treasure. In my picture, (the one on top) Dad and Mom with us kids sit in the first seats on the left side of the boat. In the other picture, Nate’s family also sits in the first seats on the left side of a boat.
So we had the same family vacation in what looks like the same old boat at the same attraction, some time in the 1950’s. Our fathers both succumbed to buying the photographs, which wasn’t typical for either of them, and both families managed to keep track of them for 50 years. What were the odds?
Mom used to tell of a similar coincidence from her past. When she was an infant, her mother would “air the baby” in a buggy each afternoon, believing children needed sunshine and fresh air. Because they lived in a Chicago neighborhood, an alley ran behind their house, across from which lived another family with children. The two families never met, but after Mom and Dad were married three decades later, the connection was made.
Dad was 13 years older than Mom so had clear memories of living in the house across the alley. He told us of seeing a woman (our grandmother) rolling her baby out into the yard each day to nap. That baby was Mom. Although her family moved away before the two could meet, once Mom and Dad compared childhood addresses and dates, they put it together. What were the odds?
I believe God puts unlikely circumstances like these together continually, around the world. He’s arranging happy “coincidences” by the millions, and is probably doing it just for his own pleasure. When he opens our eyes to “get” even one of these unlikely connections (like the glass-bottom boat or the baby carriage), we all get a big charge out of it. And as we move through the eons of life in glory with the Lord, I have no doubt he’ll reveal every instance of “chance” he orchestrated, and we will be in awe.
We’ll have plenty of “time” to listen to his cleverly executed arrangements and will be mouths-hanging-open-stunned by his ingenuity. Maybe he’ll even let us watch ourselves on a cosmic video of some sort.
But best of all, we’ll be shown it had nothing to do with chance. What were the odds?
”Come and see what God has done, how awesome his works on man’s behalf!” (Psalm 66:5)