My family speaks movie. When my siblings and I get together, we can have entire conversations comprised of little more than movie references strung together by a handful of original thoughts. And, we’ve found, there are few conversations in life that can’t somehow be enhanced by an It’s a Wonderful Life movie reference.
True story—when the elder of my two-headed brothers got married, our younger two-headed brother toasted him with these words:
They’re both a little off their nut.
A few years ago, my church threw a party for our pastor to celebrate his twenty-five years of service to our congregation. For the event, I wrote a skit entitled, It’s a Providential Life. My brother (the elder two-headed one) made this sign which was carried back and forth across the stage as someone played, Buffalo Gals Won’t You Come Out Tonight? on the ukulele.
In the skit our pastor, portrayed by his son, found himself trapped at an elder’s meeting during which fine points of church order were being argued and debated in mind-numbingly excruciating detail. At one point, the pastor’s character banged his head on the table and cried, “Sometimes I wish I’d never become a pastor!”
Of course, Clarence the angel appeared and showed him all the babies never baptized, the sermons never preached, the marriages not performed. We even caught a glimpse of his wife, pastor’s wife extraordinaire, living instead as an old maid. “Why, I’m not even Presbyterian!” she cried.
During the course of my daughter’s wedding, my dear pastor made reference to that skit and to that sign which continues to hang in his office. Speaking from the book of Ruth, he reminded my daughter and her new husband that God’s providence was, and remains, everywhere present in bringing them together and as they begin their new life together.
Ruth as he reminded us, found herself widowed and in poverty and gleaning in the fields of a man named Boaz. Boaz, as it turned out, was her near relative who became her husband and redeemer. Later in scripture, we read that our true Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ descended from this man who just so happened to have a field where this impoverished widow gleaned.
My pastor emphasized these words: as it turned out, and it just so happened. To the believer, he reminded us, there are no coincidences; all is Providence. According to the Westminster Shorter Catechism, God’s works of providence are defined as his most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures, and all their actions, all of which is a fancy-schmancy way of saying, God’s got this.
Since my daughter’s wedding, I have been thinking quite a bit about the holy, wise and powerful acts God used to bring us to that day. When my husband and I made the decision to adopt, it just so happened that I had a former roommate whose husband worked for Bethany Christian Services. After we were approved for adoption, our daughter’s birth mom read our file.
As it turned out, she chose our family because she wanted her baby to grow up in a family with other adopted children. It just so happened that my in-laws had adopted about twenty years earlier. We saw evidence that God’s plan in bringing our daughter to us had begun taking shape years before my husband and I even met.
When our daughter was young, we happened to hire a lovely young woman as a babysitter for her on a regular basis. That babysitter happened to grow up, go away to a small Christian college, and find a husband. They returned to live near us and, during the course of a seemingly random conversation, my husband offered a job to our babysitter’s young husband. Some years later, as it turned out, he became president of the alumni association at the small Christian college from which he had graduated. When our daughter was looking at colleges, he took her there for a visit and she fell in love with the place.
Shortly after arriving at college, our daughter met a young man who just so happened to live in an area in western Pennsylvania where my husband lived during high school. As it turned out, his family attended the very same church in which my husband had grown up. It just so happened that all our people knew his people.
(This happy providence, by the way, proved most useful when my daughter and her boyfriend began to date. I was able to warn him that my daughter’s grandparents continued to live on in legend in his family’s church and, should he ever even begin to formulate an inappropriate thought toward my daughter, the good people of that congregation would gladly pummel him–possibly even bludgeon him. He never really knew if I was just really, really funny or just plain crazy which, providentially, worked to my advantage.)
As it turned out, my husband and I realized we had already met the parents of this young man, having been introduced to them earlier that year at a fund-raising auction for a college ministry we support. We learned that the boyfriend’s parents had met and married while attending the same small Christian college our daughter attended. As it turned out, his mother’s college roommate became a teacher in a small Christian school in New England. Last year, that former college roommate was my nephew’s teacher.
Just a few days before the wedding, my daughter received a message from her brother-in-law to be, asking if she had an Uncle Andy. As it turns out, the two were sitting only a few feet away from each other at a conference, having just learned they worked for the same company.
Uncle Andy, by the way, is the younger two-headed brother.
You see people; it really is a providential life.This is a slightly edited post from the archives. Linking in community today with Jennifer and KD: