Before I knew God personally, I experienced what I thought was an amazing coincidence. I’ve since learned that the word coincidence is not in God’s vocabulary.

As a young adult with twenty years of life experience under my belt, I had a spur-of-the-moment idea. I decided to surprise my boyfriend, who lived 340 miles away in Elgin, OR at the time, with an unexpected visit.

After work, I caught the last bus out of town and, 300 miles later, arrived in LaGrande, OR. It was midnight. I walked a couple of blocks to a local pizza parlor where I could wait while my boyfriend made the 37-mile trip from Elgin to pick me up. I was anticipating his excitement as I dialed. Just one problem – he didn’t answer.

It was time for a quick assessment of the situation - 20 year-old female in a pizza joint 300 miles from home in the middle of the night without a plan. What to do? Ah, the impulsiveness of youth!

After asking the tiny after-midnight pizza parlor crowd if anyone was going to Elgin, I decided to walk three miles to a restaurant I knew where I hoped to catch a late night ride to Elgin. It would definitely be faster to walk under the freeway overpass. It was just a hundred feet away and would save at least twenty minutes of walking alone at night.

But the pitch black darkness of the underpass frightened me. I decided to back track four blocks, cross over the railroad tracks, cut through an abandoned property, and walk by a few homes and empty buildings to get to the restaurant instead. This route wasn’t well lit either, but at least it didn’t involve a pitch black tunnel with who knows what lurking in the darkness.

It was after 1:00 AM as I started my three mile trek. My brisk pace matched my intense desire to safely reach my destination. As I pictured the desolate emptiness and quietness of crossing the abandoned property, I was overcome with fear. I came to a complete stop and was wondering if the pizza parlor would still be opened if I turned around and went back.

Suddenly, I heard a car coming towards me. My fear increased to sheer terror but I needed help. I turned around and waved my hands, signaling for help. The risk of flagging down a stranger was much less than the fear of being alone in this “middle of nowhere” darkness.

As the car slowed and then stopped, I realized it was my boyfriend’s car. He didn’t recognize me until I opened the passenger door to get in the car. You should’ve seen the look on his face. Neither of us could believe it.

On the way to Elgin, I learned that he had to work late that night and that he always used the underpass when returning home at the end of his shift. But that night something told him to take the longer way across the railroad tracks.

We later learned that another woman walking in that same area was raped and murdered that night. What if my boyfriend hadn’t listened to that still small voice telling him to take the longer way home? Could that have been me? I don’t know - maybe. Even when I was living far from God, he had his hand of protection over me. I don’t believe in coincidence. Do you?


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