Every once in awhile in life you find yourself in the middle of an incredible story. Sometimes those stories are epic tales of survival. Sometimes you get an opportunity to witness a great hero at work or see God’s hand clearly spelling out some truth right in the middle of an otherwise ordinary day. And sometimes things happen that are so strange that you aren’t sure whether to think of them as just an odd coincidence (are there really any coincidences in life?) or what one friend calls a “God wink,” just a little reminder of who is really in control. The fact is that the Lord is fully in control of the big things and the tiny things, and nothing is too small to escape His notice or care. With that in mind, let me tell you about one of the strangest things that I have ever seen.
Chad and I were both born in Texas, but he was a city kid, growing up among the suburban neighborhoods between Fort Worth and Dallas. I grew up in a tiny town with one stop light, and my family lived out on the old homeplace where, at the time, our nearest neighbors were miles away. We grew up where our parents had grown up, and we sometimes think about all of the decisions that had to be made between our birth and when we were college students that would lead to our meeting in the cafeteria at Howard Payne University in 1995. Sometimes it seems miraculous when you think about how God leads you to the one you wind up loving your whole life. We have always been pretty amazed by the ways that He has worked to bring us together and keep us together. But yesterday we discovered a truly weird addition to our story.
Chad’s mom has an aunt who must have sentimentally kept newspaper clippings for her family; one of those family members you love because they care enough to help preserve your memories. She recently sent Chad’s mom a clipping of her marriage announcement from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, a clipping which is now 51 years old. It features a sweet picture of Chad’s mom in her wedding veil.
Chad’s mom must have opened the envelope and smiled. It was kind of her aunt to hang onto this clipping for so many years, and to send it on now so that Bettye would have an extra copy of it. But here’s where the story gets weird. As she held the clipping in her hand, out of curiosity she turned it over, maybe to see what kinds of things were in the Fort Worth newspaper 51 years ago. And there, on the back of the clipping, perfectly and completely preserved, somehow exactly following the shape of the article that Aunt Verda had cut out of the paper a half century ago, was the marriage announcement of my own parents.
They lived about 115 miles apart. This was not my parents’ local newspaper, and yet here it was, a discovery 51 years in the making, our parents’ wedding announcements back to back and perfectly preserved to our great amazement.
I can’t help but wonder if the God who dresses the flowers and feeds the sparrows doesn’t show small kindnesses to His children even through something as benign as the typesetting of the Fort Worth newspaper. Stranger things have happened. I think I’ll choose to see it as a little hint of God’s goodness, tucked away in a box someplace just to be discovered at the perfect time. Does it prove that Chad and I were meant to be? No. But it does remind me that God’s hand is in even the smallest details of life, and He can use those details to thrill us on occasion. Isn’t it romantic? He is good.