I said to her, “But if he asks you how, you can tell him that I told you, it’s the Lord.”
“He thinks it’s coincidence.”
“What we call coincidence is just another way for God to remain anonymous.”
We two sat on a bench beside the church parking lot. People were coming and going. It was midweek, but there were church programs going on.
The woman’s husband had just been hired for the job he needed—really needed and really wanted—against stiff competition and at the last moment.
I knew he was tolerant of his wife’s Christian commitment, this woman with whom I sat, but my pastor and I were concerned that they were unevenly yoked, the two of them, and that fact was troublesome for her.
Perhaps it was troublesome for him, too, as I thought of it. I wondered whether he realized the uneven yoke was galling to him, too. I knew they were eight years into their marriage. I suspected that the glow was wearing off. They had the two daughters, and not much money. Yesterday, when she had called and asked for a time to speak with me, she had a clutch in her voice. She confessed that she might be pregnant. This new job was a god-send.
But did he understand that the uneven yoke was the reason for their trouble, as I suspected that it was? Or did he attribute the trouble between them to the glow wearing off?
Her former prettiness had a scrim across it nowadays of doubt.
“What am I going to tell him about the job as a miracle?” she asked. “I can’t tell him I believe it's that.”
“It won’t make any sense to him.”
I was early in my deaconate. I wished it were the pastor who was sitting next to her, and not me. But it was me—she was one of our congregants who had been assigned to my spiritual care.
“He’s a good worker,” I said, as an offering, not knowing what to say but desiring to probe her feelings.
She nodded. “He’s a good man. Good with our girls, I never worry about him fooling around.”
“Yet you sound sad.”
She smiled a little. “Not about that. He is a good man.”
She looked away. It was warm in the parking lot, this early spring. She had fair hair which at the moment was in pleasant disarray. “I feel lonely.” She glanced at me shyly. She looked away. “Oh, maybe I should just grow up.”
A line from a hymn came into my head. When sorrows like sea billows roll….
“I think you should tell him that the job is miraculous, for your heart's peace. Tell him that the job—coming as it did, right now, just when you need it most, with maybe the new baby—that the job actually is a miracle, from the Lord.”
“He’ll laugh at me.”
“Tell him I think it’s from the Lord.”
She looked straightly at me. “He’s not going to want to hear that coming from you.” I watched her eyes, hearing what she said and why she said it, realizing too that I thought her still pretty.
“He knows you’re talking to me?”
She shook her head. Looked away.
“That’s not a good idea.”
She shrugged. I was glad that people were going in and out of the church. I identified a few of them who might see us, out in the open, just to remember.
“Look, he needs to know what you think about this. You need to press on past his laughing at you.”
“Draw him in.”
“He doesn’t want to come in.”
"Does he want to keep a barrier between you?”
Again, she shrugged. “He’s a guy.”
“He’s in charge. He’ll work it out. It’s okay. We’ll be fine.”
“But you’re not fine.”
“Maybe I should just grow up.”
She sat back with her hands crossed in her lap, looking elsewhere. I sat back also and looked elsewhere, too. Then I looked back at her. “You know, the Holy Spirit knows your situation. The Holy Spirit intercedes with Jesus. Anything might happen, and whatever does happen is for the purposes of the Lord.”
“I recognize that it’s a hard concept for those who don’t know the Lord.”
“What you said about coincidence?”
“He’ll say, why should your God desire to remain anonymous? How do I answer that?”
“God’s purpose is to save us, to have us with Him. His purpose is for us to be able to glorify Him. But He didn’t create us as slaves. It only counts when we come to Him by our free will. That’s why He desires to be anonymous. Miracles are His intervention, but we need to figure that out—that they are His, and that they are for us -- by ourselves.”
She thought a minute and then touched my arm lightly. “That might intrigue him. He likes figuring things out, how things work.” Then she smiled, brightly this time. “He is, after all, a guy.”
I smiled back at her. “Keep pressing.”
Then she startled me. “No,” she said, “enticing.”
“That’s the spirit.”
Then we prayed together, beside the church parking lot in the early spring. I was unsure of myself. But I liked that she had said enticing.
Really, enticement is the way of the Holy Spirit.
[Some circumstances changed to protect the then non-believing.]