Living on a college campus provides opportunities each day for coincidental run-ins with friends and acquaintances. The amount of people I know at school multiplied by the amount of potential locations they could be compared with where I find myself each day is a lot of math. But I’m thinking I end up with a pretty big number of potential encounters on any given day. The small size of our campus almost guarantees I will see several people I know every day without planning for it.
I cannot count the number of times I have said or thought to someone, “What a coincidence!” in reference to bumping into each other.
Is this coincidence?
First of all, what is the definition of coincidence? According to my highly educated Googling of “define: coincidence,” the word means “a remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent causal connection.”
This definition leaves God out. With faith in a Savior comes the realization that nothing occurs without apparent causal connection. This does not mean that my french toast for breakfast and the paper I finish writing late tonight are inextricably linked.
It means that whether or not I acknowledge it, God has planned all my days for his glory. Already. He has already done it. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is finished and so is the plan for my life: a sinful soul being brought back, over and over again, at the feet of my merciful Savior.
Regarding anything as coincidental is disregarding, on a holy scale, the presence of a living God who divinely orchestrates each of our lives. It is transforming to believe in human interaction this way. God divinely orchestrates who shows up in each of our days. For the past few weeks, the following quote from C.S. Lewis has rang through my head endlessly, especially whenever I witness or perpetuate the poor treatment of people, human beings created in the image of a divine God.
“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are moral, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously – no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.”
It is immortals who we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit. Most of all: It is immortals who we snub and exploit.
These are the words that stick in my head and will not leave, akin to a hometown car dealership jingle but with exponentially more significant consequences.
Lewis’ words, so impeccably chosen as to wake us up with a jolt to the reality of who we are, have begun to direct my interactions with the people I see every day – from my closest friends to complete strangers.
I snub and exploit people daily. My friends snub and exploit people daily. We even snub and exploit each other daily, without knowing it, without meaning it, without regard of the eternal consequences involved in treating people poorly.
Each person is a soul, very much loved by our God, either going to heaven or hell. If I do not remind myself daily of who the people I interact with truly are, I am in grave danger of letting selfishness and pride enter our interactions, removing the possibility of an encounter with the Lord.
If God created all beings, and God chooses who shows up in my life every day, there is no room for whining about a roommate or a friend or professor being annoying or exclusive or conceited – the list goes on. It is all for his glory, and it is not coincidental. How can I but praise Him for moments of fellowship that remind me of his power and grace?