"I'm what the world considers to be a phenomenally successful man. And I've failed much more than I've succeeded. And each time I fail, I get my people together, and I say, "Where are we going?" And it starts to get better." - Calvin Trager
Thursday, March 11, 2004 God works in weird and wonderful ways.
I often keep my cell phone in my front pocket -- the backlash of which is the times when I forget to put the keylock on and end up accidentally dialing someone stored in the phone without knowing it.
Last night was one of those times. I was blogging (believe it or not!) around 9:15 and I heard the sound of a phone ringing on the other end of the line, quickly got my phone out and hung it up, hoping I hadn't disturbed the person on the other end of the line (and hoping they didn't have caller ID!).
Well, early this morning I got a call from a good friend and fellow priest out East whose number I had unwittingly called. I hadn't talked with her in 7 months and she had left her phone in her car last night and when she got in this morning, she saw that I had called, so she called me back. Embarrassed, I confessed what had happened and she got a good laugh out of it ... and then I asked her how she was doing.
It turns out she was having a really rough time. The parish where she is rector had been hammered by finances so she was losing funding for her assistant. Much worse than that, she was having major problems in her marriage. Everything was raining down at once and it really, really sucked.
I didn't have any great words of wisdom. THere really aren't any. Sometimes life just craps on you, and when it does you have to pray a lot and lean on those whom God has given you. So her life is still really, really hard, but I think it was good for her just to be able to talk to someone who is enough removed from it to tell her that she is as wonderful as she really is, that she's not crazy and that she's going to get through this and that people love here. And I was blessed enough to be able to be that person when she needed it.
My own tendencies toward arrogance and believing I'm in control over my own life make me uncomfortable believing in a God who intervenes in our lives in ways like making a phone dial. I've got all the really good logical arguments against it ... like "If God can intervene to make a phone dial, why can't God just intervene and make a loyal tither in my friend's parish win the lottery ... or help her husband to see the merits of getting into counseling?"
But that's a stupid mental game to play, because it's even more arrogant still ... me presuming I can know the ways of God. The truth is, I haven't a clue why my phone dialed her number of all numbers last night and why she chose to call me back this morning. I could view it as a happy coincidence, but I've just got a sense I can't shake that it's something more.
And in a world where we are told what truth is in ways that are so often cold and bleak, the recognition that there is a deeper truth, a foundational force and person of love who continues to guide us and break through into our lives and, yes, even connect us to each other is a glorious and joyful truth indeed.
So I'm joyful today. I'm joyful because whether by coincidence or divine intervention, God enabled and allowed me to be there for a friend.
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"Christ's example is being
demeaned by the church if they ignore the new leprosy,
which is AIDS. The church is the sleeping giant here.
If it wakes up to what's really going on in the rest
of the world, it has a real role to play. If it doesn't,
it will be irrelevant."