Have you heard the story about the married couple photographed together at Disney World 15 years before they met? (I found out about it from a link Chris Brogan shared via Twitter.) The couple didn’t know each other, and they didn’t even live in the same country at the time the photograph was taken:
That fateful realization came just one week before their wedding eight years ago. Alex and Donna had been going through old family snapshots. There, in the blurry background of a picture of 5-year-old Donna was 3-year-old Alex being pushed down Main Street at the same moment in 1980 by his father. The senior Voutsinas’s distinctive jet-black hair with its white tuft caught his eye.
“My mother pulled out albums from the same trip. My dad is wearing exactly the same outfit.”
Other pictures from that trip showed Alex on his dad’s shoulders. The boy in the background of Donna’s picture and the boy in those pictures were the same.
I can’t even begin to imagine the odds of such a thing happening. A bajillion-to-one would be my highly uneducated guess. But although many people probably chalk it up to a remarkable coincidence, I have another theory.
I believe it’s an example of God having fun.
He often gets a bad rap. Popular thinking often paints him as curmudgeoney old guy with a long white beard sitting up on a cloud somewhere, spending his days smoting people from a distance. He sits on a thrown like a Roman emperor, judging the fate of people with a simple but emphatic thumbs up or thumbs down. If he lived in America, there’s a pretty good chance that he’d run the IRS. He’s often painted as a pretty serious dude with a serious case of Adultitis.
It’s too bad, really, because I believe there’s another side that people don’t often think about.
His goofy side.
If God really was as serious as some people imagine him to be, we’d never have the duck-billed platypus, giraffes, or Elton John.
I subscribe to the idea that coincidences are God’s way of remaining anonymous. SQuire Rushnell has written a series of bestselling books along the same lines. He calls such coincidences godwinks. Rushnell says:
What do godwinks mean? Think about when you were a kid and someone you loved gave you a little wink across the dining room table…Mom or Dad or Grandma. You didn’t say “What do you mean by that?” You knew. It meant: “Hey kid, I’m thinking about you right now.” That’s what a godwink is too: a message of reassurance from above, directly to you, out of six billion people on the planet, saying “Hey kid…I’m thinking of you! Keep the faith! You’re never alone.”
I’ve experienced some notable godwinks in my own life, and in my experience, if you’re open to them, you’ll likely notice even more.
The couple in the picture above being photographed together is really an inconsequential event. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a big deal. Nothing about the lives of the couple in question would’ve been different had the photo been snapped a few seconds earlier or later. But I can only imagine God smiling to himself when the photo was taken, because he knew. I can only imagine his anticipation when the couple was sorting through the photos on that fateful day of discovery. And I can only imagine the chills that ran down the spines of Alex and Donna once the connection was made.
Call it random if you want, but I like to think of it as an example of God having fun.
Now while there is much debate over God’s gender, I have come to believe that God is God and not really a man or a woman, but posesses a combination of what we think of as motherly and fatherly traits. In thinking of him as a father, he may be a bit stern, serious, and demanding at times. But if I could send a Twitter message to God for Father’s Day, I’d say this:
“We’re not always the best kids. Thx for sticking with us and sharing your creative & fun side in the form of coincidences. And platypuses.”
[This article was originally published over at Dad-O-Matic.com, the awesome site for dads, by dads.]