I write this on a train from Verona to Bologna, Italy, as my wife, son and I go to visit one of our former exchange students, Michela Scomparin. Tomorrow we are in Siena to visit Arturo Turillazzi, another of our former exchange students. And as we travel, Sue is in communication with a third former exchange student of ours, Daniela Kuesters, who is back in her home country, Germany. These are three wonderful people of other cultures the faculty and students of South Effingham High School have had the privilege of encountering.
As the beautiful Italian countryside rolls by, I cannot help but marvel at how people come into our lives. I am visiting people — as if they are family — in places I would have never dreamt of, eating foods I have never heard of, hearing a language that sounds like music, in landscapes I have only seen in movies. Who could have imagined such strange events in my life? Who could have predicted 20 years ago I would be here?
But the more I think about it, isn’t that true for everyone who comes into our life? Isn’t every turn in our life, including the people we meet, all a result of God’s providence?
In other words, we tend to look at the major, unusual events in our life and wonder what force could have been behind those events occurring. We surmise God has something to do with it. But what about the other, more common occurrences? Didn’t God have something to do with bringing our co-workers and neighbors into our life? God tells us in His Word that He cares about all things in our life, even the little, more mundane things.
Just as we give thanks to God for those major life events and unforeseen blessings, so we should also give God thanks for those things we could see coming — or things we feel we had something to do with. Finding our spouse, having children, our co-workers and friends, opportunities to serve others — these are all things that we tend to attribute to coincidence and not God. But there is no coincidence; there is only God.
Therefore, the only natural response to living in a world in which God is provident — like an orchestra conductor calling us to play the right tunes at the right times (sometimes we do, and sometimes we don’t) — is to ask, why has God placed these particular people in my life and what can I do to represent Him in my relationship with them?
The Rev. Dr. Bob LeFavi, installed member of the Society of Ordained Scientists, is pastor at Bethel Lutheran Church, Springfield.