Coincidence? Not in My Book

It was the middle of the night and sleep was escaping me. Isn’t it strange how an issue that is small in the daytime can loom large in the wee hours of the morning? It was one of those nights.

I was facing surgery in a few days. It wasn’t a life threatening surgery. It was a bilateral hernia repair I hoped would relieve some major discomfort I was having. It would be my fourth surgery, so it was not a new experience. So why the worry? Reason is little help in times like these. It was the unknown, a different kind of surgery and the thought of going under anesthetic again. Flipping back and forth between trusting God and worry, the more I thought about it that night, the bigger it grew, the greater the uncertainty, the more I experienced what I have come to know as anticipation anxiety.

At last I fell back to sleep, but the morning came before I was rested. The anxiety lingered and puzzled me, since I had traveled this road before.

We had gotten home late the night before, so we got up later than usual, and my first chore is always to take the dog on a potty walk. Then when we get back to the house I feed him. But that morning, because it was late, I knew he was hungry so I fed him before we went out. As we stepped out on our driveway I could see someone down the street. In the distance I thought it was the man who had done some painting for us. He is a strong believer, loves to read, and he is an avid fisherman, so we hit it off. I waved to him and when he waved back, I was convinced he was who I thought it was. He got in his truck and when he pulled onto our street, he stopped to visit.

“What’s new?” he asked.

“Well, I haven’t been fishing lately,” I responded. I told him about taking our grandson fishing this summer and what a grand time we had. Then, because it was stealing my thoughts, I added, “I’m going to have surgery on Monday, a bilateral hernia repair.”

“Oh, I had that surgery in January of 2016,” he blurted. Then pointed to our neighbor’s house and said, “It was their son-in-law who did my surgery.”

“That’s who will do my surgery,” I chimed in, intrigued.

“He’s a genuine Christ-follower,” he observed.

“Yes, he is,” I agreed, “He prayed with me after he diagnosed what was going on.”

“I got along just great,” he told me enthusiastically, “didn’t even take prescription pain killers.” He explained that he simply took the over-the-counter stuff for pain.

We continued to chat for a few more minutes, as I stood in the breezy cold amazed at what he was telling me.

When I went back into the house, I said to Mary, “Boy I just had a God-sighting!” That’s what I call an experience when it is abundantly clear that God showed up.

Was it coincidence that we happened to get home later than we expected the night before? Was it coincidence that we slept a little later than usual? Was it coincidence that I broke my pattern and fed our dachshund before we went outside, putting me in just the right spot on the driveway to see my painter friend walk out of the distant house at just the right time so he could see my wave? Was it coincidence that he told me the details about his surgery – the same surgery I was to have in two days – with the same surgeon? Why did he tell me how it all turned out, exactly what I needed to hear to put my anxiety to rest? Coincidence?

Call it what you want but I know what/WHO it was. Someone said, “Coincidence is an experience in which God chose to remain anonymous.”

My friend didn’t know I needed to hear what he told me that morning. Though I did tell him, “God sent you here.”

In case you’re wondering, I did come out of the anesthetic. Everyone on the medical team took good care of me. The surgeon prayed with Mary and me before he operated on me. He found a little more work was needed than anticipated, but he skillfully took care of it all.

That was two weeks ago and I’m doing very well. I got along great, just as my friend, Todd, did. I didn’t have to take any of the heavy duty drugs for pain, but got along fine with over-the counter meds. In my post-op visit, my surgeon said everything looked great and I was right where I should be at that point.

God showed up on our sidewalk on that cold, windy morning to bring me the peace only God knew I needed. That morning I inhaled grace, and I exhaled gratitude.

Author: Randy J. Gauger

Follower of Jesus Christ, Mary's husband for 55 years, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, preacher, ordained American Baptist Pastor retired, writer.

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