Doth God really find parking places for Christians? I’ve always found this whole notion slightly questionable — I am disturbed by the thought of the creator of the rolling spheres sweating small stuff so that I can have what I want when I want it. And what about the obvious instances of God not Mr Fixit, experienced by most people most of the time?
However, two experiences in the past fortnight have got me, even me, wondering about what Victorian Evangelicals used to call particular providence.
Getting from London to Great Missenden on a Sunday involves an elaborate sequence of interlocking but uncoordinated wheels — train to Beaconsfield (8 miles from home), then an hour and a quarter’s wait for a bus to go 4 miles to Amersham, then a 45 minute wait for a train for the next 4 miles home — total journey time approx. 3 hours. So horrified was I at waiting for the bus in Beaconsfield, I scooped up four random members of the travelling public to share a taxi to Amersham. “Sorry, mate” said the Taxi man. “It’s an hour’s wait.” We were just trudging off up the ramp away from the station with luggage, looking for transport, when my colleague Tim Butlin, Vicar of Loudwater, randomly swept by, and generously offered free lifts for all four of us to Amersham. Said one commentator, “It’s good to know you lot still do the Good Samaritan.” Quite.
This weekend the car got stuck in a flurry of snow on a country lane in Kent, as Lucy and I went to help lead an Engaged Encounter Weekend, about 6 miles from the venue. It was not going anywhere, and we were contemplating disaster, when a van came up behind containing... one of the couples on the weekend. Four of us we were able to turn our vehicles round and head for safety. (hint: Having absolutely no traction, makes it conceivable to turn even a transit van sideways as though on a turntable!).
I don’t know the chances against such things happening. I am painfully aware that people with far weightier needs than mine are left fuming by the roadside. I have also experienced many thousand occasions when exactly the right person did not, in fact, materialise; but I confess to wondering whether such random acts of kindness are evidence that someone up there has, in fact, not got it in for me...