The Divine Is in the Detail

According to Albert Einstein, “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.”  We all can remember times when insignificant details accumulate to significantly shape our lives.  Coincidence often takes part in how we meet our soulmates, determine our vocations and develop our strengths.  When it is looked at objectively, so much of each our lives are built on coincidences.  Few of us who are married first laid eyes on our future spouse with the expectation of nuptials.  Few of us had a detailed plan for our career and then worked the plan.  Objectively, we should agree that the world is too random to assume that most of the major developments in life are left to chance.  Objectively, it makes more sense that there is someone who has a plan for us, whether he wants to remain anonymous or not.   coincidence

This truth became clear to me once again as I studied the second chapter of Ruth last week.  In two places, the author makes the point, with cultural wordplay that God’s plan is so coincidental that it cannot be random.  First, the author writes:

“So she went out, entered a field and began to glean behind the harvesters.  As it turned out, she was working in a field belonging to Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelek.”  Ruth 2:3 (NIV)

Then, one verse later, the author writes:

Just then Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters, “The LORD be with you!”  “The LORD bless you!” they answered.”  Ruth 2:4 (NIV)

So Ruth just happened to stumble into a relative’s field at just the same time that this relative, Boaz, returns to check on that same field.  Objectively, it seems too specific to be random.

Objectively, it seems more rational, and more honest, to acknowledge that the God who designed the orbit of planets, who placed every star in the sky and who builds and topples nations directs the path of each and every person in all creation, including the big pictures and small details of our personal histories.  Since this is true, we ought to appreciate those big pictures that provide clarity as well as those small details that regularly go unnoticed.  And since so much of our lives are shaped by the accumulation of individually insignificant events, it is in our best interest to occasionally take notice of the ‘coincidences’ that guide our lives.

Maybe God is guiding you when you see an old friend in a hotel lobby while you are on vacation so that you renew a relationship, so that you have that contact when a better job is available at that friend’s company.   Perhaps He is guiding you through an article you read in a waiting room, then a conversation over the phone and then a relative’s diagnosis so that you make an appointment for that cancer screening and you avoid having to endure treatments. Then again, maybe He is guiding you to move so that your travel pattern to work is changed so that you share a smile with a kid who, unbeknownst to you, is going through a tough time at home and needed someone to give him hope.  God is in it all.

Thank God that He is Lord of the details of life, whether He chooses to reveal His hand or not.

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