One of the nice things about taking six months off from blogging is that you have a lot of topics waiting in the wings to be blogged. One of the categories I'll be interspersing here is "Catch up on my life" Probably the most momentous thing that has transpired during this time period is my decision to step down from my administrative post at Bethel. At the close of this academic year, I'll no longer be the Vice President for Academic Services.
I still have some major reflecting to do on this move. Coming to the decision was tortuous, but even if nothing else good comes from it, it was a worthwhile process because I heard from God. I suspect that most of us have times fairly frequently when there is a nudge or quiet word in our lives that provides direction. But I have a list that I can count on my fingers of the times when there was something more dramatic in the way of divine communication. I've never been one to hear audible voices or see skywriting; but God has worked powerfully and unmistakeably (at least to my lights) through circumstances--like the time that I asked if I was going to marry the girl I was dating and God "answered" through the song on the radio. This time it was through the timing of a telephone call. Perhaps I'll speak to it again in the future.
For now, I'll reflect a bit more on coincidences. There is a concept that has some traction from the Intelligent Design movement called "specified complexity". Essentially it is an event that has a very low probability of happening (complexity) AND shows unmistakable signs of intelligence (specified). When I lived in Illinois, the license plates had three letters then three numbers to them (unless you ordered a custom one--which was free in IL at that time but I chose not to do for aesthetic reasons). The one that we got was RCF 337. Getting that specific license number has a probability of 1 in 17,576,000. That's pretty rare, but I when we got it in the mail I didn't respond with, "Wow, can you believe we got that one??!!" However, if I had gotten JBS 711, which has exactly the same probability of appearing on an Illinois license plate, I would have been incredibly shocked and I doubt if you could have convinced me that something wasn't fishy somewhere (because that happens to be my initials and birth date).
In the same way, many of the "God things" that have happened to me had incredibly low probabilities as well as having the unmistakeable mark of someone standing behind them. I'm aware of the possibility that they could have just been random; but I choose to view those events as purposeful (and would argue that it is the better explanation of the facts to do so). I think that being committed to viewing the world in such a way is at least part of what it means to have religious faith.