John 11:4 – This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory, so that God's Son may be glorified through it. (NIV)
"Random" is a trend term. Middle school-age students use it for a level of cool. Random is out of our control — we're unable to manage, manipulate, or direct it. Random is unrelated to the thought process of a conversation. Random keeps the déjà vu out of the scenario of life. Viewed as positive, an action that may be looked forward to, random is the stuff that causes us to remember another day in the life of ______ (fill in the blank).
One Tuesday recently was memorable because of random.
I hadn't seen Becky in maybe ten years. With such a span to tax my memory files, I didn't recognize this person walking to each exterior door of my house, knocking, peering in the glass doors, and leaving nose smudges on my spring-cleaned windows. A bouncing, active eight-year-old boy was following her.
"Can I help you?" I asked, when I reached the house, walking up from the horse corral.
"Hey, don't you recognize me?" This thin, blonde lady walked down the steps with open arms towards me.
"I grew up across the street."
"Becky?" She'd matured a bit and cut her hair; a new Jaguar was parked behind her.
"Oh, wow, it's so good to see you!" I gave her a huge hug.
Becky had grown up with my kids; her dad was employed by my husband. I didn't remember family names and let her fill me with chatter on her stepmom and sisters, her husband and son.
"Weren't you studying for nursing last time we talked?" trying to remember something.
"Oh, I'm an embalmer, now."
Seriously. You pump formaldehyde into dead people? How random was this visit? Becky filled me in on the process of the decomposition of the body. I'm sure if I had googled "decay", I could have learned the every-day details Becky experiences in her career. Why hadn't I thought of that?
Random items happen. We wonder at the authenticity or the validity of each random act that crosses our paths. We may never learn why.
Later, on Friday that week, as I was studying my Sunday School lesson, a rushing wind blew through my head and stopped. I was studying Lazarus — the brother of Mary and Martha who died and was buried for four days before Jesus showed up. Jesus reminds us three times in this passage that "this happened so that you might see the glory of God"; "this is for your benefit"; "this is for your sake".
Jesus' four-day delay was a set-up — a set-up so Lazarus could die. A set-up so we could experience resurrection of the dead, because in just a few weeks Jesus was to rise from the dead. Would it have been so credible if it were not preceded with Lazarus' experience? Random? No. For Becky to drop in and discuss decay and embalming was a set-up, not only with basic information but to make concrete the fact that things happen for a reason.
Random is a fun term with kids, but it isn't in God's vocabulary.
Prayer: Father God, we love Your ways. They are not stagnant, but things happen with You that keep us smiling. They keep us looking forward to meeting You on a daily basis. Oh, Father, how Your ways exceed our small thoughts. Your grandeur is beyond our comprehension, and it is why we seek You daily. May our eyes be open to Your "random" acts. Give us understanding in Your perfect timing. Remembering the name given to Your Son, Jesus, we pray. Amen.