You who have made me see many troubles and calamities
will revive me again;
from the depths of the earth
you will bring me up again. (Psalm 71:20)
I sometimes think of God as the divine switchboard operator. Not all that long ago, switchboard operators connected us to each other through a system of cables they manually moved around on their enormous switchboards. I was reminded of this when watching an episode of “The Crown.” A dozen or more women (operators were usually women) sat pulling and plugging in cables as fast as they could go.
Of course we don’t connect that way now. Nor will you find any references to switchboard operators in the scriptures. The phone wasn’t invented until many centuries after the last book of the Bible was written. None-the-less, I have often experienced God as the One who sometimes occasionally connects people who could benefit from being in touch with one another.
Welcome to Texas
I witnessed this one Sunday not long ago at my church. Two seats over from me was a young man I didn’t recognize. The attendance at this service is small enough that we easily recognize newcomers. I greeted him and asked if he had any questions about anything. He didn’t. However, he volunteered that he was new to Houston, recently divorced, and had started worshipping in Lutheran congregations because that is where his sister worships back home. He also volunteered that he needed to get a Texas real estate license so he could resume his vocation as a realtor. His current license isn’t recognized in Texas.
There’s not much amazing about that. It’s typical of how folks in my congregation greet people. The switchboard function kicked in a few minutes later when Connie sat down in front of us. She turned around to add her greeting for this young man. I told her about his need to get a Texas real estate license. I’d already told him Connie’s husband works in real estate. Connie told him, “And we’re looking for help.”
Coincidence or Operator on Duty?
I did not know that. I did notice she and Irvin were talking with our church guest over coffee after worship. Coincidence? Possibly. I think God often likes to work through what we consider coincidences or small world encounters. I don’t believe God micromanages our every thought and action. We make choices based on a variety of complex factors. The DNA we inherited from generations of relatives, where and how we were raised, peer influence, advertising and marketing campaigns, where we get our information, and other factors all contribute to the choices we make.
Yet, I do believe God sometimes intervenes to do a little networking. We may start thinking about someone we haven’t thought about in a long time. If we contact that person, we may learn they are going through a rough patch of life and really needed to hear from someone who would care.
My Long Lost Cousin
Several years ago I started dreaming about my cousin Lynn. After her parents divorced, her mother moved her and her brother thousands of miles away from where my family lived. I hardly ever saw her again and hadn’t thought about her in years. Since she married, I wasn’t even sure what her last name was or where she was living. Yet, there she was in my dreams. One day I was dusting a bookshelf and came upon a recent alumni directory from my high school. Her brother came back and graduated from the same school. She did not. I found her brother’s listing and tracked him down. Through him I got reconnected with my long lost cousin, Lynn.
We got reacquainted via e-mail at first. Our first phone call lasted two hours. Though we lived on opposite ends of the country we managed to visit in person twice before she died. It was wonderful to reconnect with someone with similar memories of our mutual grandparents; someone who was part of my childhood.
Sometimes I think of God as the Divine switchboard operator who helps us connect with people who enrich our lives in some way. God senses it would be good for two particular people to be together; then arranges to plug them into one another’s lives for a moment in time.
What experiences have you had connecting to someone in a rather remarkable way?